IBEX

Mission Name:
Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) Education and Public Outreach (E/PO)


Project Description:
The primary goal of the IBEX E/PO program is to communicate the scientific goals and results of the IBEX mission to the public in various locations and formats in ways that make the science, technology, engineering and math relevant to the learner:

  1.  

  2. Communicate IBEX science results and mission goals to multiple audiences in multiple formats
  3. Address the needs of people with learning disabilities

  4. Involve minority communities in our educational efforts
  5. Conduct educational research about science related to the IBEX mission (and assess completion of E/PO program goals)

  6. Contribute to educational endeavors of NASA’s SMD E/PO Initiatives.


The IBEX E/PO Program consists of several components, each designed to address specific educational objectives and reach particular audiences, including:

  1. a full-length digital planetarium show called IBEX: Search for the Edge of the Solar System,
  2. electronic and printed educational products,
  3. mission website,
  4. the Space Science Core Curriculum Sequence for Grades 6-8, created and funded in collaboration with Great Explorations in Math and Science (GEMS), Lawrence Hall of Science, and other NASA missions,
  5. the Heliophysics Educator Ambassador Teacher Professional Development program, conducted in partnership with several NASA heliophysics missions,
  6. the Space Explorers Afterschool Science Club program, facilitated in partnership with Chicago Public Schools, and
  7. resource materials for teachers of middle school students with dyslexia.



The IBEX EPO team uses best-practice methods to design, develop, and evaluate the effectiveness of the EPO program activities. To determine what people know and need to know about the Solar System, the Sun, states of matter (including plasma), and NASA unmanned space science missions and the people who work on them, a needs assessment was performed in 2006 by IBEX Education and Public Outreach staff and the IBEX evaluator at three nationwide sites. The IBEX EPO team reviewed these findings in detail and used them to design IBEX Education and Public Outreach products and program activities. All products, resources, and learning opportunities were reviewed during development and tested when complete for efficacy and effectiveness. Revisions were made all along the way to ensure the best possible results. Finally, a comprehensive summative evaluation program was carried out for all IBEX EPO program activities.


Lead Institution:
The Adler Planetarium


Partnerships:

  • Christa McAuliffe Planetarium (on-site evaluation efforts for IBEX EPO program activities)
  • Great Explorations in Math and Science, Lawrence Hall of Science (GEMS Space Science Sequence curriculum)
  • National Federation of the Blind (IBEX website component testing for people with visual impairments; NFB also shared information about IBEX tactile product availability to email list members)
  • Chicago Public Schools (Space Explorers Afterschool Science Club)
  • Adler Planetarium (distributes the IBEX planetarium show to U.S. locations)
  • National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign (development of IBEX planetarium show)
  • Heliophysics Education and Public Outreach Forum (SEPOF activities allow IBEX EPO staff to share resources with other NASA SMD EPO programs)


  • THEMIS/Artemis, AIM, MMS, RHESSI, TIMED, RBSP, Voyager, SDO, STEREO, SOHO (Heliophysics Educator Ambassador program)
  • Evans & Sutherland, Sky-Skan, e-Planetarium, Global Immersion, Konica Minolta, Digitalis Education Solutions, Inc., and Loch Ness Productions (encode and distribute the IBEX planetarium show with no licensing fee)


Metrics:
Number of K-12 Teachers, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 166
Number of K-12 Students, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 1922
Number of K-12 Teachers, Indirect Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 10
Number of K-12 Students, Indirect Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 89

Additional metrics:

  • Number of Informal Educators, Direct Interactions, Space Explorers Afterschool Club program, FY11-12: 54
  • Number of Students, Direct Interactions, Space Explorers Afterschool Club program, FY11-12: 890
  • Number of K-12 Teachers, Direct Interactions, Heliophysics Educator Ambassador program, FY09-11: 84
  • Number of General public, Direct/Indirect Interactions (IBEX Planetarium Show, FY09-12): 90,251
  • The IBEX Planetarium show is available at 106 U.S. locations.
  • 117,964 visitors (87,893 unique) visited the IBEX website, viewing a total of 330,673 website pages from January 1, 2008 – September 10, 2012. The average number of site visits from December 22, 2010 – September 10, 2012 was 1523 each month.

  • All English version IBEX products were printed, including two posters, Heliosphere lithograph, lenticular card, five lesson plans, and the Postcards from Space lithograph. GSFC’s Public Affairs Office provided an additional lithograph about the IBEX spacecraft and mission. Downloadable posters and lithographs are available in English and Spanish versions and are screen reader compatible.

  • Printed poster and lithograph distribution as of September 20th, 2012

    • Exploring the Edge of the Solar System poster: 4,699

    • The Edge of the Solar System poster: 44,865

    • The Heliosphere lithograph: 59,750

    • Mission Overview lithograph: 19,100
  • 498 tactile products for people with visual impairments were distributed to users.

  • Online IBEX games and activities have been accessed 8,194 times from January 2011 – September 2012.

  • 370 kits and 326 guides from the GEMS Space Science Sequence for Grades 6-8 curriculum have been sold by Carolina Curriculum.



Effectiveness and Impact:
Evaluation findings and impact statements:
From its inception, the work of the EPO IBEX team has been thorough, thoughtful and comprehensive. All products, resources, and learning opportunities began with a needs assessment, were reviewed during development, and tested when complete for efficacy and effectiveness. Revisions were made all along the way to ensure the best possible results. Such assiduousness paid off in the documented effects on the audiences. Encounters with IBEX materials, experiences, and staff resulted in audiences that report they learned things they didn’t know, want to learn more, and plan to share what they learned with others. 


Informal educators report the IBEX planetarium show and kits are unusually comprehensive. The planetarium show is in 106 locations in 36 states and has reached over 90,000 people. The 54 teachers in the afterschool Space Explorers Club programs in Chicago were prepared to engage their groups (890 students) in learning space science, resulting in statistically significant increases in student knowledge, and a continuing interest in learning more space science. 


The 84 formal educators trained as trainers in the Heliophysics Educator Ambassador program significantly increased their knowledge of space science, used GEMS SSS with their own students (13,400), and offered workshops for an additional 3954 educators, who in turn used what they learned with almost 400,000 students.

The IBEX website has had over 87,000 visits, with an average of 3700 per month. 310 kits and 326 guides from the GEMS Space Science Sequence curriculum have been sold by Carolina Curriculum. Almost 90,000 posters and 80,000 lithographs were printed and distributed. Almost 500 tactile models of the heliosphere and the IBEX spacecraft were distributed to people with visual impairments. Website materials are screen reader compatible. The games have been adapted to meet special needs, and guidelines for using the GEMS SSS with students with dyslexia are under development.


A. What IBEX EPO resources have been created? How are they available? How many have been distributed? To whom? Who is using them?

  • The IBEX Planetarium show is available at 106 U.S. locations.
  • 117,964 visitors (87,893 unique) visited the IBEX website, viewing a total of 330,673 website pages from January 1, 2008 – September 10, 2012. The average number of site visits from December 22, 2010 – September 10, 2012 was 1523 each month.
  • All English version IBEX products were printed, including two posters, Heliosphere lithograph, lenticular card, five lesson plans, and the Postcards from Space lithograph. GSFC’s Public Affairs Office provided an additional lithograph about the IBEX spacecraft and mission. Downloadable posters and lithographs are available in English and Spanish versions and are screen reader compatible.
  • Poster and Lithograph distribution as of September 20th, 2012
    • Exploring the Edge of the Solar System poster - 44,699
    • The Edge of the Solar System poster – 44,865
    • The Heliosphere lithograph – 59,750
    • Mission Overview lithograph – 19,100
  • 498 tactile products for people with visual impairments were distributed to users.
  • Online IBEX games and activities have been accessed 8,194 times from January 2011 – September 2012.
  • 370 kits and 326 guides from the GEMS Space Science Sequence for Grades 6-8 curriculum have been sold by Carolina Curriculum.

B. What are the effects on audiences of programs using IBEX resources? (students, teachers, general public)

  • People attending an IBEX Planetarium show were able to correctly identify what the IBEX mission is collecting (96%), how the Solar System boundary is created (86%), that the boundary is not visible (86%), that they IBEX spacecraft had been launched from an airplane (67%), and the number of stars in our Solar System (61%).
  • People attending an IBEX planetarium show were more interested in learning more about IBEX after doing an activity (80% - 100%) or seeing the show (97%).
  • 97% of the participants who saw the planetarium show reported being very interested (48%) or somewhat interested (49%) in participating in one or more of the IBEX activities.
  • Planetarium visitors developed an understanding of the content through the activities as demonstrated on a knowledge test at the end of the activity.
  • Teachers involved in the Space Explorers Clubs using the GEMS SSS in Chicago Public Schools attended professional development workshops. Space Explorers Club professional development workshops were held for educators in the fall of 2011 (9 teachers) and 2012 (17). As a result of the workshops, educators felt prepared to teach the content addressed in the workshop at a statistically significant level.
  • Students involved in the Space Explorers Clubs using the GEMS SSS in Chicago public schools showed pre/post test gains on knowledge of key concepts. Student responses were scored using a rubric on a scale of 1-4.
    • For Unit 1, students showed gains on all six questions, with statistically significant gains on 5/6 questions
    • For Unit 3, students showed gains on all four questions with statistically significant gains in 2/4 questions in 2010-11, and 4/4 questions in 2011-12:
    • For Unit 4, data are from 2011. Students showed increases on 4/5 questions
  • Studies of students engaged with the GEMS Science Sequence Curriculum by Nagy-Catz and Barter (2005, 2006) have shown significant gains in students’ knowledge. All three studies showed significant gains in student knowledge as a result of using GEMS SSS curriculum materials.
  • In an examination of the students of teachers in a prior quasi-experimental study, GEMS SSS students made significantly greater gains that the textbook group in content knowledge and attitude. A pre/post design study showed statistically significant gains in content knowledge by 6th-8th grade students in all four units.
  • Teachers in years 2010 and 2011 of the Heliophysics Educator Ambassadors program took the GEMS SSS tests for Units 1-4. These consisted of a mixture of different question types (true/false, drawing the Sun-Earth system, etc). The results show high pretest scores for all four units for 20/21 questions for both years, and statistically significant growth at the .05 level for 12/21 questions in 2010 and 10/21 questions in 2011. In 2010, participants had prior knowledge of topics in 7/21 questions and in 2011 of 6/21 topics so their pretest scores were 3 or higher, leaving no room for statistically significant growth.
  • On additional content knowledge questions all HEA participants made statistically significant gains as a result of participating in the workshops.

C. How are IBEX EPO resources being used in informal settings? (planetaria, after school clubs) What professional development do informal educators need to use IBEX resources?

  • From March 2009 through August 2012 at least 90,251 U.S. visitors saw the IBEX planetarium show at 106 locations in 36 states.
  • Planetaria are using the show with school groups (grades 3 to 12), with high school and college astronomy classes, and with the general public.
  • GEMS SSS Units were used in an afterschool club program in the Chicago Public Schools with 890 students.
  • Space Explorers Club professional development workshops were held for educators during the 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12 school years.
  • As a result of the workshops, educators felt prepared to teach the content addressed in the workshop at a statistically significant level.

D. How are IBEX EPO resources being used by formal educators (teachers)?
What professional development do formal educators need to use IBEX resources?

  • HEAs attributed the success of the summer workshop in preparing them to the combination of activities, mission content presentations, time to discuss and plan with each other, and quality and variety of resources from GEMS SSS to other NASA resources.
  • Follow up surveys with a representative sample of HEA-trained Tier 2 educators indicated they have used HEA content for an average of 10 instructional hours, shared materials with an average of 141 students/year, used the materials as a supplemental resources (76%), used the materials in non-astronomy courses (76%), and shared the resources with colleagues (57%), primarily in informal conversation for an average of nine/year and a total of 400 other educators.

Impact: Development of GEMS Space Science Sequence for Grades 6-8
The development of the GEMS Space Science Sequence for Grades 6-8 (GEMS SSS) was partially funded by the IBEX EPO program and led by the Lawrence Hall of Science (University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA). Other NASA SMD funding and support came from: Sun-Earth Connection Forum, Kepler mission, Origins Education Forum, Hubble Space Telescope, Solar System Education Forum. The GEMS SSS is designed to address age-appropriate core concepts in space science (NRC, 1996) and common misconceptions that students have about them (Kavanagh & Sneider, 2007a&b). The GEMS Space Science Sequence has been designed for students in grades 6-8 with each grade level band set of materials divided into four units (see Figures 1 and 2). Within each of the units, students explore different areas of space science, building on what they have learned, having their misconceptions challenged, and making connections to other areas of science they have studied.

Many programs have used this collaboratively developed product and independent research has been conducted on its effectiveness. 


As of June 1, 2013, 370 activity materials kits and 326 curriculum guide sets from the GEMS Space Science Sequence curriculum have been sold by Carolina Curriculum, under contract from the Lawrence Hall of Science to distribute the GEMS SSS.

Research on GEMS and GEMS SSS
: Prior studies on GEMS provide good evidence that:
1. The GEMS design has content and construct validity, i.e., it delivers on its stated goals of being research-based, teacher-friendly and effective in developing student knowledge and positive attitudes.
2. GEMS SSS effectively develops student content knowledge of space science concepts in grades 6-8.

Effects on Students: 
The effect of GEMS on student content knowledge was strongest for students in the classrooms of teachers with limited content knowledge of space science initially, further supporting the conclusion that the GEMS SSS materials improve teacher content knowledge and confidence and guide their instruction to develop student understanding. Nagy-Catz and Barter (2006) http://kepler.nasa.gov/education/resources/eval/docs/GEMS6-8SpaceSciSeq.pdf examined the pre/post knowledge gains for the grade 6-8 curriculum on multiple choice and short answer items. Effect sizes and percent correct gains were statistically significant for all units and grade levels. In summary, all three studies showed significant gains in student knowledge as a result of using GEMS SSS curriculum materials. 


Findings on Curriculum, Teachers, and Students: In two independent curriculum analyses, GEMS was determined to have: 1) strong support for teachers to use a constructivist approach, 2) concepts based on the key ideas in the area, and 3) alignment with standards, and activities that help students confront their misconceptions and evolved them.

In a quasi-experimental study comparing GEMS SSS and a textbook approach, GEMS teachers were significantly more knowledgeable and confident than the control group teachers. Those teachers who initially had the lowest self-efficacy and attitude scores made the greatest gains.


In an examination of the students of teachers in the quasi-experimental study, GEMS SSS students made significantly greater gains that the textbook group in content knowledge and attitude. A second pre/post design study showed statistically significant gains in content knowledge by 6th-8th grade students in all four units.

IBEX Evaluation of the Effect of GEMS SSS on Teachers and Students
: As part of the IBEX E/PO program, GEMS SSS Units were used in an afterschool setting in the Chicago Public Schools, called the Space Explorers Afterschool Science Clubs. First, educators were trained to facilitate the activities either in one or two of the GEMS SSS units. The educators then implemented the lessons as part of the afterschool program. As a result of the workshops, educators felt prepared to teach the content addressed in the workshop at a statistically significant level. At the end of the afterschool program, students showed significant knowledge gains in most areas, reported they would recommend the club to others, and reported being interested in learning more. 


HEA Program Use of the GEMS SSS
: The Heliophysics Ambassador (HEA) program was developed by several collaborating SMD Heliophysics Education and Public Outreach programs, including IBEX, to promote greater coherence of existing efforts in providing long-duration professional development training opportunities for middle and high school educators. Under the leadership of the IBEX, THEMIS/ARTEMIS, and AIM EPO teams, the HEA program pulled together members of the Heliophysics EPO community representing a variety of missions including MMS/Cluster, RHESSI, TIMED/RBSP, Voyager, SDO, STEREO and SOHO. Partners provided funding for the program and/or ‘in-kind’ contributions in varying degrees.


These mission EPO teams collaborated in order to offer in-depth learning experiences for educators employing a ‘train the trainer’ model. This collaboration was intended to weave together the science of NASA’s heliophysics missions for delivery to educators in an effective manner. Mission scientists and EPO professionals presented heliophysics content to educators participating in the HEA program. These presentations sought to organize heliophysics content into a coherent ‘story’ and to integrate into this story advice on inquiry-based pedagogical strategies.

The HEA model begins with teachers who apply for a summer workshop to become trainers of other teachers. In the workshop, they learn about the science of heliophysics, the GEMS Space Science Sequence for Grades 6-8, other NASA heliophysics resources, and specific NASA heliophysics missions. They use what they learn with their students, and for an additional stipend, offer a workshop for other teachers, called ‘Tier 2 educators.’ 


Other key impacts:

Awareness, knowledge or understanding: 
Planetarium show and informal education activities: A study of the effectiveness of the IBEX informal education activities in conjunction with the IBEX planetarium show was conducted in 2010-2011 at four planetarium show locations.


People attending a show and then participating in one or more activities showed understanding of the planetarium show content:


  • 96% correctly identified what IBEX mission is collecting

  • 86% correctly identified how the Solar System boundary is created

  • 86% correctly identified that the boundary is not visible 

  • 67% correctly identified that IBEX had been launched from an airplane

  • 61% of respondents correctly identified the number of stars in our Solar System

To compare: in the 2006 preliminary knowledge assessment, only 40% of the 90 respondents knew that the solar system has a boundary, 36% said that the boundary occurs where the Sun’s gravitational pull ends, and 44% said that the boundary is marked by the outermost object that orbits the Sun, generally Pluto. Only 18% correctly identified the number of stars in our Solar System (one), compared with 61% of those exiting the IBEX show. The results from those attending the IBEX show indicate the show had a positive effect on the commonly held conceptions.

Space Explorers Afterschool Club program: Educators and students showed knowledge gains in all content areas, with statistical significance in most content areas.


Heliophysics Educator Ambassador program: HEA participants took the GEMS SSS tests for Units 1-4. These consisted of a mixture of different question types from true/false questions to drawing the Sun-Earth system. The results indicate that teachers were able to learn the necessary content in the summer workshop to be able to implement the GEMS SSS successfully. Upon being asked additional content knowledge questions specifically related to IBEX, all participants made statistically significant gains as a result of participating in the workshops.

Engagement or interest: 
Planetarium show and informal education activities: Most people were more interested in learning more about IBEX after doing an IBEX activity or seeing the planetarium show:


  • 97% reported they were more interested in IBEX after seeing the show
  • 97% reported being more interested after the Four of the States of Matter activity,

  • 100%, reported being more interested after the Particle Detection activity

  • 96% reported they were more interested in IBEX after the Achieving Orbit activity

  • 80% reported being more interested after Postcards from Space

  • 100% reported being more interested after the Heliosphere Water Demo

97% of the participants who saw the planetarium show reported being very interested (48%) or somewhat interested (49%) in participating in one or more of the IBEX informal education activities.

Space Explorers Club: At the end of the afterschool program, students reported being interested in learning more science content.

Attitude: Space Explorers Club: When Space Explorers Club students were asked to indicate how they felt about the Club culminating event program, they circled the following words: happy, interested, confident, excited, free, comfortable, important, inspired, special, (feel/felt) good about myself, and welcome.



At the end of the afterschool program, over 94% of students reported they would recommend the club to others.

Skills: Space Explorers Club: As a result of the Space Explorers Club educator professional development workshops, participating educators felt prepared to teach the content addressed in the workshop at a statistically significant level.

Heliophysics Educator Ambassador program: Heliophysics Education Ambassadors who attended the summer workshops from 2009-11 reported that they understood the GEMS SSS activities, understood the mission and content presentations, anticipated they would use the activities and the content presentations, and were prepared to instruct their own students, and other teachers.


Audience quotes:

  • “Adler did a great job providing the professional development, materials, and quality leaders to visit the schools.”
  • “Wish all available planetarium shows offered this level of quality support and resources.”