What this site is not
The materials on this site were developed originally in the context of NITARP activities, but we share them in the hopes that others will find them useful for learning basic skills needed to do research, and how to access the wealth of astronomy data online.
This is not a place to learn how to come up with your own science research ides. Even NITARP isn't going to be able to teach you how to come up with your own science research ideas.
If learning how to come up with research ideas could be learned from a website, there wouldn’t be ~8 years of grad school, plus another 2-4 years as postdocs, before professional astronomers are “trusted” to come up with projects completely on their own. Yes, grad school has formal classes, but none are titled "Coming up with your own ideas." One of the big things one is supposed to learn in these 10-12 years is how to come up with one's own projects. This isn’t a well-scripted process that can be documented easily, and it’s not something that is learned even in one distinct phase or month as a grad student.
We hope that reproductions of past NITARP work can be constructed so as to be well defined enough to let you reproduce them using the skills and scaffolding here. But extending those projects to go further into original science really can’t be done without a scientist mentor.
We have tried this sort of thing before, and the problems have consistently been that the teachers working on their own ran into big problems but didn’t realize that there were big problems. Even NITARP alumni don't always know when to ask for help.
This site is NOT "learn how to do original research in 5 easy steps!" …because that’s not realistic. "Learn how to use (mostly IRSA) tools to reproduce complex projects" is more where we're aiming.
And for the record, the canned activities here aren't appropriate for science fairs, but you can take the skills learned here and expand it to different topics in order to come up with science fair ideas.