A boy and his dad with a telescope looking at the stars

Nice piece in Edutopia today about a joint NOAO (National Optical Astronomy Observatory and GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Enviornoment) project, involving students around the world to study the night sky and report on night light pollution.   This is great stuff– students enjoy looking at the night sky and teachers and schools can do well by them to provide them the tools to do so, but we all know that when these events take place in a vacuum,  the learning experience can fall a bit short.  But let students use the experience to contribute, to participate in a research project where their results will count, and the whole experience adds in dimension and depth.  I like this particular project a lot in and of itself, but I also like it as a teaser and a thought-provoker: in how many other ways can we connect K-12 learning to authentic research, increasing student motivation and making learning matter?