The Kepler EPO program’s main goal is to engage people from children to grandparents in the search for Earth’s twin. Kepler keenly motivates public interest and student learning because it aims to change our understanding of our place in the universe, and people world-wide are following its every discovery. Kepler discoveries have had a huge impact. They have changed our ways of thinking about the place of the Earth in the universe, changed exoplanet science, and made great cultural splashes through print, broadcast and social media and the Kepler Mission website. Each discovery announcement spawns hundreds of articles world-wide, many thousands of website hits, and hundreds of thousands of people follow the Kepler Mission of Twitter and Facebook. Educators seek out materials to use in classrooms, planetaria and museums. Amateur astronomers explain Kepler at star parties while pointing out stars known to have planets. And people have named their children Kepler in honor of both the scientist and the mission. For over a decade, the Kepler Mission Education and Public Outreach (EPO) program has built widespread excitement and engagement in this hunt for exoplanets.
An overview of Kepler Mission Education and Public Outreach Projects can be found here:
Goals and strategies:
- capitalize on the excitement of discovering Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars.
- use established and successful, highly-leveraged collaborations with networks and organizations that reach students, teachers and the public.
- spark the imaginations of the general public as well as teachers and students
- stimulate student learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). --inspire and engage as many people as possible in Kepler’s discoveries.
- have a balanced mix of public outreach, formal and informal education activities;
- assure that all educational products support national education standards;
- disseminate up-to-date information on discoveries and achievements;
- engage the public via social media tools and networks to expand impact of Kepler.
- support both the “2011 NASA Strategic Plan” and the “NASA Education Outcomes and Objectives Hierarchy”
Kepler EPO projects include:
- Classroom Activities
- Shadows and Silhouettes Kit for amateur astronomers in amateur astronomy clubs in the Night Sky Network to use in their public outreach programs and events.
- Models and Simulations that illustrate how Kepler discovers planets.
- StarDate Radio Programs
- Museum Exhibits
- Planetarium Programs including an audience participation show: "Strange Planets"
- Tools for Presentations--Audio-visuals aids and videos of presentations by Kepler Team.
- Resources and Materials for teachers including handouts, information, solar system transits.
- Activities capitalizing on the Transit of Venus 2012
- Collaboration with Planet Hunters (planethunters.org)
- Sagan Public Essay Contest
- Elements Just for Fun: Art, Music, Poetry, and Humor
- Website rich with information and graphics about Kepler Mission
- Astronomical Society of the Pacific and JPL (for Night Sky Network/amateur astronomy kits)
- Full Option Science System (FOSS--for implementing activities in classrooms nationwide)
- Great Exploration in Math and Science (for access to GEMS nationwide network of sites and centers)
- McDonald Observatory Univ of Texas (for StarDate Radio)
- NASA ARC, Public Affairs (for Social media, NASA website)
- NASA ARC, Office of Education (for ARC Exploration Center)
- JPL: Exoplanet Program (for design of kepler.nasa.gov)
- JPL: Solar System Ambassadors & Museum Alliance (for Public Outreach)
- NASA Heliophysics Forum (for Transit of Venus/Sun-Earth Day)
- NASA GSFC: Space Math (for data for problem sets)
- NSTA (for publication in teacher journals)
- JPL/IPAC (for NITARP–Authentic Science for Teachers/Students)
- Pacific Science Center, Seattle WA (for Planetarium show)
- Space Telescope Science Institute (for SEPOF and ViewSpace)
Number of K-12 Teachers, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 1089
Number of K-12 Students, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 2849
Number of K-12 Teachers, Indirect Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 1000
Number of K-12 Students, Indirect Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 4300
Metrics for individual Kepler EPO elements (per year):
- Transit Exhibit: > 100,000 visitors
- Kit for Night Sky Network Amateur Astronomy Clubs: > 500 events, >25,000 people
- GEMS Space Science Sequence: > 1500 teachers, > 45,000 students
- Hands-On Universe HS Transit Investigation: > 55 teachers, > 3000 students
- Strange Planets Planetarium Show: > 70 planetaria, >30,000 visitors
- Star Date Radio Broadcasts: Millions of listeners, Website visits: >250,000
Effectiveness and Impact:
Evaluation findings and impact statements:
Full evaluation reports are posted at: http://kepler.nasa.gov/education/resources/eval/
Evaluation Summaries/Effectiveness of Projects:
- Transit Exhibit
- The LHS transit exhibit very inviting to visitors—87% of groups that came near stopped to use it—a high capture rate. Hold time also very high: 50 sec to 16 min with an average of 3.5 min.
- The table-top LEGO Orrery model used in U. of Colo Astronomy Labs.
- LEGO Orrery models were part of the kit for day-long TPD
- Kit for Night Sky Network Astronomy Clubs: Shadows & Silhouettes Kit was used successfully and its activities well received at public events.
- GEMS Space Science Sequence: Pre to post-test student learning gains were statistically significant for all units and grade levels. Grades 3–5 gain ranged from 12% to 20%. Grades 6–8 gains ranged from 11% to 17%. Results suggest consistent evidence of the effectiveness of the curriculum.
- Hands-On Universe HS Transit Investigation: Field test results indicate Transit Investigation successful & valuable. Students were able to understand the concepts better after the readings.
- Strange Planets Planetarium Show: Survey results—very positive findings: visitors enjoyed the show; reported learning new info; could articulate themes/purpose of the show; liked hands-on parts; felt it is appropriate for a broad range of ages.
- Star Date Radio Broadcasts: StarDate broadcast on 278 stations & 572 time slots. Universo broadcast on 129 stations & 189 time slots. Survey respondents reported they were very likely to go outside to find the object discussed, or to go to the web site to learn more, but were not more likely to take a class or pursue a degree in science. Audience mainly men in their 50s and 60s.
Middle School Planetary Science Published:
The FOSS (Full Option Science System) Planetary Science middle school module is a kit-based course, with hard-copy teacher guide, student materials, plus web-based resources. Kepler EPO infused Kepler science and discoveries in the newly revised FOSS Planetary Science course. FOSS curriculum is used in all fifty states by over 100,000 teachers and 2 million students; it is in about 16% of the nation’s school districts. More importantly, FOSS is adopted in 50 of the 100 largest urban school districts where FOSS reaches large populations of under-served students.