Reach for the Stars: Computational Models for Teaching and Learning in Physics, Astronomy and Computer Science is a GK-12 program funded by the National Science Foundation, with support from CIERA and Northwestern University. 

This NSF program places STEM graduate student fellows in K-12 science classrooms for the academic year with the goal of enriching their education and strengthening their development as researchers by advancing their communication and teaching skills. The fellows work in partnership with a collaborating teacher to bring more inquiry-based teaching methods into the classroom and to further expose K-12 teachers and students to the research process. Through Reach for the Stars, GK-12 fellows will adapt concepts of computational thinking and actual computational modeling tools from their research work to classroom activities connected to the existing math and science curriculum.

Over the years, our fellows have put together lesson plans, on a wide variety of topics, that are free to download for use in your classroom.


GK-12 is invaluable to me, post-graduation. I often find myself remembering lessons from the program. Much of my job now is communication and education with my users: scientists from diverse backgrounds. We also work often with outside donors – as we’re a non-profit research institute – so the lessons I learned from GK-12 are critical to building knowledge.

Dorothy Wheatcraft

Mass Spectrometry Scientist and Manager, Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, ME

RftS has opened up a whole new world in my physics classes. Before participating in this program, I did not know what computational modeling was, and I did not know how to do any computer coding. Through lesson planning with my graduate fellow, I have learned how to code a little bit, and how to apply that code to introduce computational thinking. Without RftS, I would not have the dynamic and important lessons my students have now had the opportunity to learn.

Katie Page

Physics Teacher, Prospect High School in Mount Prospect, Illinois