MESSENGER

MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER)

 

Since 2000, educators, scientists, and engineers work together to share the exciting science of the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission with the public! Through the MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach program, over 22,000 teachers have been educated about Mercury science, and MESSENGER educational materials have reached the classrooms of over three million students.

More about MESSENGER can be found at:
http://messenger.jhuapl.edu

 


Project Description:
Science Mission: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are the terrestrial (rocky) planets of our solar system. Of these, Mercury is an extreme: the smallest, the densest, the one with the oldest surface, the one with the largest daily variations in surface temperature, and the least explored. Understanding this "end member" among the terrestrial planets is crucial to developing a better understanding of how the planets in our solar system – including our own! – formed and evolved.

To develop this understanding, the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission, spacecraft, and science instruments are focused on answering six key outstanding questions that will allow us to understand Mercury as a planet:

  1. Why is Mercury so dense?
  2. What is the geologic history of Mercury?
  3. What is the nature of Mercury's magnetic field?
  4. What is the structure of Mercury's core?
  5. What are the unusual materials at Mercury's poles?
  6. What volatiles are important at Mercury?


Education and Public Outreach Mission and Approach: MESSENGER’s Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) program engages the expertise of several organizations to achieve the following objectives:

  • Create high quality, standards-based instructional materials for use in classrooms and informal settings
  • Train educators in the use of mission-related materials using a ‘train-the-trainer’ model to maximize the number of educators (and hence students) reached
  • Effectively use social media to engage students and the general public in the science of the mission
  • Design, implement and maintain web-based learning tools, such as an informative mission website, educational games, regular podcasts and other products
  • Engage the public through local and national events
  • Collaborate with E/PO teams from other NASA missions for educator workshops and presentations at national conferences
  • Produce and distribute mission-related outreach materials such as educational posters and an interactive kiosk

 


Lead Institution
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.


Partnerships:
The MESSENGER team brings expertise in informal and K-12, and higher education, STEM experience in the private sector, electronic media and informational technologies expertise, and science content expertise through practicing scientists. The scientists write and review MESSENGER E/PO content, collaborate with the E/PO specialists to create educational activities and resources, interpret mission findings to share in educational resources and with the public, and interact with the public through presentations and social media efforts.

In addition, the MESSENGER mission E/PO depends on partners for many aspects of its program:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): Development of online citizen science products such as Google Mercury, Mercury Mappers, Geo Hunters; production and publication of printed and e-book versions of plain language book 'Exploring the Inner Solar System'; production of podcasts featuring MESSENGER; evaluation and dissemination of MESSENGER educational products via AAAS's SciLinks site for educators; public programs at AAAS featuring MESSENGER.
  • Carnegie Academy for Science Education (Carnegie Institution of Washington): development, review and field testing of educational and outreach products; educator training; public events; management of E/PO program.
  • Science Systems and Applications, Inc.: development, review and field testing of educational and outreach products; educator training; public events; management of social network sites.
  • Montana State University: design and maintenance of MESSENGER education website; design of web-based and print-based educational products.
  • National Center for Earth and Space Science Education: Management of MESSENGER Educator Fellow's program: development, review and field testing of educational and outreach products.

MESSENGER E/PO also collaborates with other Science Mission Directorate missions to deliver Mercury and solar system science to the public:

  • New Horizons
  • Dawn
  • Mars Exploration Program
  • Juno

 


Metrics:
Number of K-12 Teachers, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 432
Number of K-12 Students, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 284
Number of K-12 Students, Indirect Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 4631
Number of Informal Educators, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 3
Number of Pre-Service Teachers, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 175
Number of Higher Education Students, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 24


Effectiveness and Impact:
Key Evaluation Findings:
MESSENGER Educator Fellows 1. Recruitment and Training of Fellows:

  • Recruitment: There have been four Cohorts of Fellows over the period 2003-2012. Each recruitment attracted over 50 applicants. Thirty Fellows were selected for each cohort, following extensive review of applications by the E/PO team. Each Fellow initially committed to a two year period of service.
  • Number of Fellows: Each cohort has had approximately 30 Fellows. Some Fellows elect to remain with the program for more than one two-year period. There have been over 90 Fellows trained over the ten years of the program.
  • Years of service by Fellows: Fellows may elect have to continue as educators for the Mission for more than one more than one two-year period. Continuation is permitted, depending on the number and quality of workshops given. Seven Fellows have been with the program from Years 1 or 2 of the program.
  • Over the period of the mission, the program has had Fellows in 35 different states, as well as the Territory of Guam.

MESSENGER Educator Fellows 2. Fellow-led educator workshops:

  • The total number of workshops given by Fellows throughout the ten years of the program is 893.
  • The total number of educators trained by Fellows is 22,057.
  • Based on the reported number of students taught by the workshop attendees, MESSENGER materials have reached the classrooms of over 3 million students.

 




Over 22,000 teachers have been trained on Mercury science from MESSENGER.

 

MESSENGER Education Classroom Materials:

  • Materials in the MESSENGER Education Modules and the ‘Exploring Ice in the Solar System’ CDROM received an ‘Outstanding’ rating from the NASA Education Product Review process.
  • These materials have been distributed to 22,057 teachers at the Fellows workshops.
  • Over 20,000 of the ‘Exploring Ice in the Solar System’ CDROM have been printed and distributed by the MESSENGER team. Another 15,000 have been distributed through NASA CORE, and other missions (New Horizons), as well as by NASA’s Astrobiology Institute.

MESSENGER Education Website with downloadable or interactive educational products:

  • Information about unique visits (that is from different computers; does not count repeat visitors) has been collected since 2009.
  • Total unique visits recorded since 9/24/09: 209,229. There was a short window when visits could not be recorded. Visits extrapolated to include the average number of visits we likely missed during reporting gap: 228,263.
  • Over the last year (5/29/2012-5/29/2013), there have been 63,559 unique visits.
  • Several of our interactive products have passed the NASA Product Review. One of these, the ‘Gravity Assist’ activity was featured on the NASA portal as an ‘Exemplary’ product.

Workshops and events by E/PO team and scientists (national, regional or local):

  • Data for these events is not well recorded. However, there are several of these each year with an estimated total attendance/engagement of over 2,500 members of the general public.

 



MESSENGER E/PO collaborates with other Science Mission Directorate missions to share Mercury and solar system science thematically with the public.


Outreach products (posters, buttons, stickers, cards):

  • The E/PO team has produced two posters over the course of the Mission. Each features educational material on the reverse side. In all, more than 30,000 MESSENGER posters have been distributed at teacher training workshops and public events.

Social networks:

  • As of June 7, 2013, MESSENGER2011 has 24,320 followers on Twitter.
  • As of June 7, 2013, MESSENGER also has 5,181 friends on Facebook and 2,690 people who ‘Like’ MESSENGER’s Fan Page on Facebook.

 


Evaluation Plan
Goals and Objectives:
MESSENGER Educator Fellows 1. Recruitment and Training of Fellows:

  • Recruit and train educators from across the nation to conduct workshops for other educators using MESSENGER created materials.

MESSENGER Educator Fellows 2. Fellow-led educator workshops:

  • MESSENGER Educator Fellows perform workshops for at least 100 educators per year in their own region giving MESSENGER a national presence.

MESSENGER Education Classroom Materials:

  • Produce high quality, standards-based educational materials for use in K-12 classrooms.
  • Distribute materials nationally through educator workshops, national conferences.
  • Materials available on the web site for download.

MESSENGER Education Website with downloadable or interactive educational products:

  • Create an engaging web presence to educate students and the public about the Mission and its discoveries.
  • Produce high-quality, standards-based interactive educational materials.
  • Provide down-loadable educational materials for educators.

Workshops and events by E/PO team and scientists (national, regional or local)

  • Inform educators and the general public about the Mission through engagement with educational materials and Mission scientists.

Outreach products (posters, buttons, stickers, cards)

  • Provide the general public with educational materials at events.

Social networks

  • Engage the general public in dialogue about the Mission and its findings.


Evaluation Parameters:
MESSENGER Educator Fellows 1. Recruitment and Training of Fellows:

  • Recruitment numbers
  • Number of Fellows
  • Fellow surveys
  • Years of service by Fellows

MESSENGER Educator Fellows 2. Fellow-led educator workshops:

  • Number of workshops given
  • Number of attendees
  • Number of students reached
  • Pre-post surveys of attendees

MESSENGER Education Classroom Materials:

  • NASA Educational Product Reviews
  • Number of materials distributed or downloaded

MESSENGER Education Website with downloadable or interactive educational products:

  • NASA Educational Product Reviews
  • Google Analytics
  • Number of hits of more than two pages
  • Number of downloads

Workshops and events by E/PO team and scientists (national, regional or local):

  • Number of workshops or events
  • Number of attendees or personal interactions

Outreach products (posters, buttons, stickers, cards):

  • Number distributed

Social networks:

  • Number of Facebook fans
  • Number of Twitter followers


Evaluator:
MESSENGER Educator Fellows 1. Recruitment and Training of Fellows:

  • Internal
  • Fellows Program manager

MESSENGER Educator Fellows 2. Fellow-led educator workshops:

  • Internal
  • Fellows and Fellows Program manager

MESSENGER Education Classroom Materials:

  • Internal
  • E/PO team

MESSENGER Education Website with downloadable or interactive educational products:

  • Internal
  • Website manager

Workshops and events by E/PO team and scientists (national, regional or local):

  • Internal
  • E/PO team

Outreach products (posters, buttons, stickers, cards):

  • Internal
  • E/PO team

Social networks:

  • Internal
  • Social networks manager