First Light

First Light Free Saturday Science School gives middle school students in the District of Columbia an opportunity to learn about topics within the field of Astrobiology through hands-on projects guided by STEM professionals.

First Light is a FREE Program for students in DC public and Charter Schools in grades 6-8. All Students must be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to participate.

Each year, First Light has a different theme; for 2021-2022 First Light will focus on Astronomy.

There are three six-week terms per academic year, the Fall, Winter, and Spring.

  • Fall: Introductory Astronomy
  • Winter: Astrobiology
  • Spring: Rockets and Propulsion

Students must apply for a single term at a time but are encouraged to return for as many terms as possible during their years of eligibility (grades 6-8).

During the Winter Term, students will focus on the question “What other planets are like Earth?” Students will compare exoplanets to planets in our solar system, focusing on specific exoplanet systems. They will also learn how to detect planets using the transit method and they’ll revisit spectroscopy, learn about signs of life/bio-markers on other planets, complete term-long exoplanet research projects, and demystify sci-fi aliens: are species viable on the planets they were assigned to?

FirstLight is led by CASE’s Lead Physical Science Educator Ms. Stephanie.

Registration for the Winter Term is open! Register here (link) by January 18th, 2022. We are currently prepared to shift to virtual lessons if COVID continues the way it has. 

Sessions are held on the following Saturdays from 1 pm – 4 pm:

  • January 29th
  • February 5th, 12th, 26th
  • March 5th, 12th

Volunteer with First Light

First Light is seeking STEM professionals to serve as volunteer instructional assistants for the 2021-2022 school year. Volunteers commit to serve for one six-week term (three terms per year). Volunteers guide students through hands-on activities to explore scientific questions.

During this term, DC middle school students will have an opportunity to explore Astrobiology through experiments, engaging with scientists, and more! To apply to be a volunteer, please complete the Volunteer Application.


Alumni choose STEM! Of the students who were in this program 2008-09, 39% are now pursuing college degrees with a STEM focus.

Alumni return for more FL! From the last 10 years, 64% of students return for more than one term. 43% return for more than three terms.

First Light is supported, in part, by the GM Foundation.