Calendar in the Sky

Project Name:
Calendar in the Sky EPOESS


Project Description:
Calendar in the Sky is a NASA-funded project led by the UC Berkeley Center for Science Education at the Space Sciences Laboratory to engage the American public (with special emphasis on Latinos) in NASA science (space exploration, astronomy, planetary and Earth sciences, etc.) via the broad interest in Maya culture. The project maintains a website for the public about Maya astronomy that connects the ancient knowledge of the Maya to modern NASA science (www.calendarinthesky.org). The website emphasizes the interplay of science and culture embodied by Maya calendars and addresses misconceptions about the Maya. It also uses NASA resources to inform the public about the astronomical basis of the Maya calendar system and dispels misconceptions about the year 2012.

We provide professional development trainings for informal educators to:

  • increase their familiarity in Calendar in the Sky topics and resources,
  • learn about and share best practices in public programming for Latinos in informal settings,
  • get ideas for an informal education event or program around astronomy, Maya culture and the year 2012, and
  • create opportunities for networking between participants (especially with Latino community members), allowing for future interactions and/or collaborations.

These trainings are intended for informal educators from a broad range of venues: museums, science centers, community leaders, parks, astronomical societies, Latino cultural organizations, libraries, etc. This professional development was initially in the form of 2-day workshops held in metropolitan areas with the largest Latino populations. In addition, starting in the summer of 2012, we began a monthly series of online webinars about Calendar in the Sky topics.

Goals and Objectives
The goal for Calendar in the Sky: Engage the American public (with a specific focus on Latinos) in NASA science via the broad interest in Maya astronomy.

Our objectives to achieve our goal are:

  • Develop a website about Maya astronomy that connects the ancient knowledge of the Maya to modern NASA science. The website has a special emphasis on Maya calendars and addresses misconceptions about Maya astronomy. It also uses NASA resources to inform about the real science in 2012 doomsday prophesies to provide evidence and reasoning for why these prophesies are unlikely or simply false.
  • Build on existing NSF and NASA-funded networks of science and cultural museum institutions that are interested in reaching Latino audiences with programming around this topic.
  • Provide professional development to museum communities on the website content and resources for them to integrate Maya astronomy with NASA science into their programming.

Workshops
The agenda for each informal educator professional developmentworkshop varied with location and the presenter team. Here is a general sketch of the two-day agenda that we developed:

Day 1

  • Opening
  • Introductions
  • Maya Astronomy Lecture
  • Activity demonstrating solar zenith passage in the Maya lands
  • Break (including networking and exploring the host institution)
  • Planetarium show/Tour (an official showcase of the host institutions’ offerings)
  • Activity engaging participants in how to write Maya numbers
  • Maya Calendars Lecture
  • Best Practices in Working with Latino Communities (case study reading and discussion session)
  • Maya cosmology in corn and textiles
  • Evaluation

Day 2

  • 2012 Science
  • Share-a-thon (Participants give short presentations of resources they have to offer)
  • Break (including a showing of “Tales of the Maya Skies”)
  • Parallel break-out session showcasing activities to explore how the Maya viewed the Sun and Venus
  • Collaboration Working Groups (where participants discuss ideas for possible collaborations and programming they might do on these topics)
  • Website and take-home resources review
  • Evaluation
  • Closing

In year 2 we began a new mode of professional development for educators interested in the topics of Maya Astronomy mixed with NASA science. We began a series of monthly webinars. The webinars are 90 minutes long, with each focused on a single topic. They occur on either the final Tuesday or Friday of the month at 11am Pacific. We wanted to make their schedules as normal as possible for the ease of our participants. We have recruited presenters from our immediate team and also from participants of the workshops. We structure the webinars so that there is about 60 minutes for presentation and 30 minutes for questions and discussion. We have also begun to live tweeting during the webinars to try to create interest in the Twittersphere/Twitterverse. Participants are recruited from a variety of places: Calendar in the Sky workshop participants, ASTC, AAM, Dome-L and other list-serves (including NASA nationwide), Facebook, and Twitter. The webinars are recorded and archived on the Calendar in the Sky website.

We have a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Calendar-in-the-Sky/175507882527710) for the project along with a Twitter stream (https://twitter.com/Sky_Calendar).

We maintain the Calendar in the Sky website from UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory (www.calendarinthesky.org). The website is intended for a general public audience, with a password protected subsection available to professional development participants. It is formatted for viewing on computers as well as for mobile devices.


Lead Institution:
University of California, Berkeley


Partnerships:

Website Team

  • UC Berkeley
  • Maya Archeo-Astronomer
  • Latino Community Leader
  • Exploratorium
  • Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

Professional Development Team

  • UC Berkeley
  • Maya Archeo-Astronomer
  • Latino Community Leader
  • Maxwell Museum of Anthropology
  • Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
  • Exploratorium

Workshop Hosts

  • Exploratorium
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum
  • Arizona Science Center
  • Space Center Houston
  • American Museum of Natural History


Metrics:
Number of K-12 Teachers, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 4

Additional metrics - Webinars:

2012.06.29
Topic: 2012: The Science of the Maya Apocalypse
Number of Attendees: 58

2012.07.27
Topic: It’s Not The End Of The World: What The Ancient Maya Tell Us About 2012
Number of Attendees: 48

2012.08.28
Topic: Putting it into Practice: Resources and Activity Ideas for Programming About Maya Astronomy
Number of Attendees: 29

2012.09.25
Topic: Intro to Maya Astronomy: Past & Present
Number of Attendees: 43

2012.10.26
Topic: Living Maya Time: Sun, Corn, and the Calendar
Number of Attendees: 36

2012.11.27
Topic: Maya Calendars
Number of Attendees: 38

2012.12.14
Topic: How Are You Celebrating December 21st, 2012?
Number of Attendees: 7

2013.01.29
Topic: How Long Is A Year?
Number of Attendees: 19

2013.02.26
Topic: Working with Latino Audiences
Number of attendees: 47


Effectiveness and Impact:
Evaluation findings and impact statements:

San Francisco
Satisfaction around the content:
78.2% of respondents were satisfied with the content of the workshop. 95.7% of respondents agreed that content on ancient Maya astronomy and science was new information to them and 82.6% of respondents agreed that the content on current astronomy and scientific knowledge was new information to them.

Satisfaction around networking opportunities:
86.9% of the respondents were satisfied with networking opportunities provided by the workshop. Interactions between participants on best practices and different experiences are key to acquire knowledge about what others are doing. It provided participants with new perspectives on implementation of certain programs and strategies.

Resources and information for planning informal education programs:
As a direct result of attending this workshop, 78.2% of the respondents agree that they have enough information to develop and/or implement informal education programs for Latinos. 87% of respondents agree that the information and resources received at the workshop will help their organization to develop programs or events around astronomy, Maya culture and the year 2012.

Los Angeles
Satisfaction around the content:
94.4% of respondents were satisfied with the content of the workshop. 83.3% of respondents agreed that content on ancient Maya astronomy and science was new information to them and 82.6% of respondents agreed that the content on current astronomy and scientific knowledge was new information to them.

Satisfaction around networking opportunities:
88.9% of the respondents were satisfied with networking opportunities provided by the workshop. Interactions between participants on best practices and different experiences are key to acquire knowledge about what others are doing. It provided participants with new perspectives on implementation of certain programs and strategies.

Resources and information for planning informal education programs:
As a direct result of attending this workshop, 70.5% of the respondents agree that they have enough information to develop and/or implement informal education programs for Latinos. 88.2% of respondents agree that the information and resources received at the workshop will help their organization to develop programs or events around astronomy, Maya culture and the year 2012.

Chicago
Satisfaction around the content:
91.1% of respondents were satisfied with the content of the workshop. 91% of respondents agreed that content on ancient Maya astronomy and science was new information to them and 68% of respondents agreed that the content on current astronomy and scientific knowledge was new information to them.

Satisfaction around networking opportunities:
91% of the respondents were satisfied with networking opportunities provided by the workshop. Interactions between participants on best practices and different experiences are key to acquire knowledge about what others are doing. It provided participants with new perspectives on implementation of certain programs and strategies.

Phoenix
Satisfaction around the content:
All (100% ) respondents were satisfied with the content of the workshop. 93.3% of respondents agreed that content on ancient Maya astronomy and science was new information to them and 60% of respondents agreed that the content on current astronomy and scientific knowledge was new information to them.

Satisfaction around networking opportunities:
80% of the respondents were satisfied with networking opportunities provided by the workshop. Interactions between participants on best practices and different experiences are key to acquire knowledge about what others are doing. It provided participants with new perspectives on implementation of certain programs and strategies.

Resources and information for planning informal education programs:
As a direct result of attending this workshop, 86% of the respondents agree that they have enough information to develop and/or implement informal education programs for Latinos. 79.9% of respondents agree that the information and resources received at the workshop will help their organization to develop programs or events around astronomy, Maya culture and the year 2012.

Houston
Satisfaction around the content:
100% of respondents were satisfied with the content of the workshop. 100% of respondents agreed that content on ancient Maya astronomy and science was new information to them and 76.9% of respondents agreed that the content on current astronomy and scientific knowledge was new information to them.

Satisfaction around networking opportunities:
100% of the respondents were satisfied with networking opportunities provided by the workshop. Interactions between participants on best practices and different experiences are key to acquire knowledge about what others are doing. It provided participants with new perspectives on implementation of certain programs and strategies.

Resources and information for planning informal education programs:
As a direct result of attending this workshop, 77% of the respondents agree that they have enough information to develop and/or implement informal education programs for Latinos. 84.7% of respondents agree that the information and resources received at the workshop will help their organization to develop programs or events around astronomy, Maya culture and the year 2012.

New York
Satisfaction around the content:
95.7% of respondents were satisfied with the content of the workshop. 100% of respondents agreed that content on ancient Maya astronomy and science was new information to them and 60.8% of respondents agreed that the content on current astronomy and scientific knowledge was new information to them.

Satisfaction around networking opportunities:
69.5% of the respondents were satisfied with networking opportunities provided by the workshop. Interactions between participants on best practices and different experiences are key to acquire knowledge about what others are doing. It provided participants with new perspectives on implementation of certain programs and strategies.

Resources and information for planning informal education programs:
As a direct result of attending this workshop, 60.8% of the respondents agree that they have enough information to develop and/or implement informal education programs for Latinos. 81.8% of respondents agree that the information and resources received at the workshop will help their organization to develop programs or events around astronomy, Maya culture and the year 2012.

Website online survey
We have so far 320 responses to the online survey evaluating the website. Most of the respondents to the website’s evaluation questionnaire (82.3%) were first time visitors to the website. Half of them (50.6%) reported that their main interest was to look for information related to the year 2012 and the Maya calendar: 50.6% of them visited the pages on Maya science information, and 45.78% looked at 2012 science information. Little more than one third (35.34%) also visited the NASA science section.

In regards to the overall goals of UC Berkeley’s Space Science Lab, a majority of respondents to the website’s evaluation agreed that visiting it successfully aided them in connecting with their sense of wonder (59.47%) and in making personal ties to science and the learning process (58.51%).

Monthly Webinars
We evaluated 11 monthly webinars to date. The total number of respondents is 137.

  • Most of the participants (78.4%) have experience designing and/or implementing informal education programs, and the majority (60%) has also experience working with Latino populations.
  • Most of them (73%) agreed that the webinar's information on Maya astronomy was new to them.
  • Half of them (50%) agreed that the webinar's scientific knowledge (current) was new to them.
  • 68% agreed that the information on Maya astronomy provided new points of view to leverage their existing knowledge on the topic
  • 75% agreed that the information on current science and astronomy provided new points of view to leverage their existing knowledge on the topic
  • Most agreed (90.5%) that the webinar met their expectations, and that the information will help their organization to develop public programs.
  • 86.9% reported that their organization would likely use the webinar content to implement public programs

Results integration
Integrating the evaluation results of both the online survey and the mini-group interviews, we identified the following learnings and insights:

  • Participants agree that they achieved the program goals and their personal goals for attending the workshops.
  • Participants perceive the workshop’s content around Maya science and the Maya calendar to be new information in a higher degree that they perceive NASA science to be new information.
  • Networking opportunities were more frequently reported among people that belong to a similar type of organization (science centers, museums, community organizations, etc.). Opportunities for interaction and networking between museums/science center professionals and Latino community organizations were reported less frequently.
  • There have been many opportunities for workshop participants to share the contents of the workshop with their networks, either formally or informally. The Calendar in the Sky website has helped in the dissemination of the workshop contents.
  • Planning of formal public programs focused on the Maya calendar and the year 2012 have been difficult due to constraints within their own organizations (financial, scope of programs, decision-making process, time/space, etc.), but workshop participants have found ways to share the content either adding some of it to existing programs and events, or finding other opportunities for dissemination (many of these digitally).