Suzaku Education and Public Outreach Program
Suzaku is a joint Japanese-US satellite whose mission is to study X-rays emitted by objects in the universe, such as stars, galaxies, and black holes. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, and many objects in our universe emit them.
The primary goals of Suzaku Education and Public Outreach were to educate high school students about the role of spectroscopy in astronomy, educate high school students about the process of scientific investigation, and increasing public awareness of Astro-E2 science, technology and discoveries. To achieve these goals, we created a portfolio of materials related to Suzaku technology and science.
The Suzaku E/PO team created a series of curricular support materials for the grade 9-12 classroom. Using Suzaku data and scientific results, we created tutorials for Student Hera, an authentic data-in-the-classroom activity that enables students to analyze archival astrophysics data. The Suzaku E/PO team also created an award-winning educational video/DVD, entitled “Building the Coolest X-ray Satellite,” aimed at a high school level audience. The video covers the history of the mission, including the building of the instruments, real scientists from around the world in action, and a look forward to the scientific results from Suzaku. The Suzaku E/PO team developed professional development workshops based on the curriculum materials and educational video that were presented for teachers across the country at national and regional meetings by team members and the Suzaku Educator Ambassador (EA). All education materials were disseminated through the Suzaku public website hosted at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.
The Suzaku E/PO team offered an opportunity for a team of highly motivated high-school students to use data from Suzaku. We held a competition, prior to launch, which invited high-school teams to write proposals for the use of data from Suzaku. From the proposals, one winning team was selected to analyze date from supernova SN 1006.
To support informal education audiences, the Suzaku E/PO team partnered with the Night Sky Network to create a toolkit for amateur astronomy clubs to use in their outreach to schools and the general public. The topic of supernovae was chosen for this kit, as supernovae are particularly relevant as a class of objects that Suzaku observes. Finally, to engage the general public, a “Suzaku Learning Center” website was created. The site has recently been combined with the Astro-H website as the “Collaboration Across Cultures” site, celebrating collaboration between NASA and the Japanese space agency, JAXA, in X-ray astronomy over the past 25 years.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
The Suzaku Education and Public Outreach team partnered with the Night Sky Network to create a toolkit, titled “SUPERNOVA!”, which is used by amateur astronomy groups across the nation at their outreach events. Our group provided content and review of the resulting toolkit, while the Night Sky Network provided their expertise in creating materials that are useful to amateur astronomers.
We also partnered with Sonoma State University’s Educator Ambassador program for the training of our Suzaku Educator Ambassador. The EA program was a group of experienced and enthusiastic teachers chosen through a competitive selection process and trained to give workshops on high-energy astronomy at local and regional venues. We participated in bi-annual trainings of these teachers and directly sponsored one teacher.
We also partner with local teachers to develop our curriculum materials. We provide the teachers with science content, and they use their extensive experience in the classroom to turn that into lesson plans.
Number of K-12 Teachers, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 65
Supernova Toolkit: used in 348 events in FY12, reaching >33,000 participants (at least 9% minorities)
Awards and Recognition:
The Suzaku educational video, “Building the Coolest X-ray Satellite” won a 2006 Telly Award.