NASA GSFC Code 660.1
Greenbelt, MD 20771
Sara Mitchell is an Education and Public Outreach Specialist within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Since 2003, she has supported a variety of formal education, informal education, and public outreach programs. Sara's background includes both astrophysics and communication, and working at Goddard provides her with a unique opportunity to apply her scientific, technical, and creative knowledge. Sara serves as a "translator" between the ASD's scientists and engineers and a variety of audiences. She has worked with multiple astrophysics programs and missions, contributing to curriculum support materials, professional development workshops, online resources, multimedia, and more. In 2011, Sara received a NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal for her innovative programs and cross-divisional collaboration.
Many of Sara's efforts have been primarily focused on audiences outside of the classroom, especially projects designed to meet the needs of unusual and underserved audiences. In 2006, she co-founded the NASA Family Science Night (FSN) program, a curriculum featuring hands-on events for middle schoolers and their families. This unique out-of-school project harnesses the influence of parents and other family members on student achievement and career choices. The FSN team received a Robert H. Goddard Award in 2008 for exceptional achievement in outreach. Sara has also been involved in the development and dissemination of the Afterschool Universe program, a curriculum developed for use in afterschool programs, summer camps, and other out-of-school-time venues. The Afterschool Universe team was awarded a 2009 NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award for "dedication and innovation in bringing NASA into the lives of thousands of individuals who might not otherwise be engaged in space science." Both the FSN and AU programs continue to grow, as their established models and dissemination networks facilitate the addition of new content from astrophysics and beyond.
Sara leads the Space Forensics project for the Physics of the Cosmos and Cosmic Origins education program. This project takes students in formal and informal education settings through astronomy problem-solving narratives that parallel crime scene forensics. Each standards-aligned Space Forensics case fuses STEM and literacy, using mystery narratives and hands-on activities to take students through the process of understanding and solving the case. Sara is working with a multimedia development company to turn these cases into interactive online games that allow armchair crime-solvers to engage in the mysteries of the universe from their computers, tablets, or smartphones.
Each year, Sara represents the ASD at national education and scientific conventions, such as National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), National Afterschool Association (NAA), American Astronomical Society (AAS), and Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) meetings. She has created workshops for educators and students about the ASD's programs and materials, as well as workshops for the space science education community about successful resources, models, and methodologies. These meetings provide Sara with an opportunity to interact directly with the end users of her products and programs, network with colleagues, and share the excitement of NASA astrophysics with everyone!
Afterschool Universe ( http://universe.nasa.gov/au/ )
Afterschool Universe is an out-of-school-time astronomy program targeted at middle school students. It explores astronomy concepts through engaging hands-on activities and takes participants on a journey through the Universe beyond the solar system.
Blueshift ( http://universe.nasa.gov/blueshift/ )
NASA Blueshift is your “backstage pass” to the science, missions and people here in Astrophysics at Goddard – we’ll fill you in on groundbreaking discoveries, innovative technology, new missions, and other exciting stories.
Family Science Night (http://universe.nasa.gov/family/)
Family Science Night encourages families to explore various themes through hands-on activities about science in the world (and the Universe!) around them. Topics include size and scale, maps and models, reasons for the seasons, life cycles of stars, lunar exploration, solar power, eclipses, engineering, and more!
Space Forensics (URL coming soon!)
See how STEM disciplines come together to explore exploding stars, hidden black holes, and more. Space Forensics offers classroom lesson plans and online interactive games that combine storytelling and science.
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
National Afterschool Association
National Science Teachers Association
National Summer Learning Association
Krishnamurthi, A., Lochner, J. C., Conaty, C., Eyermann, S.E., Ferrell, T., Gliba, G., Griswold, B., Masetti, M., Mitchell, S.E., Reddy, F., Toth, T., & VanDoren, A. “Using IYA to Bring the Universe Down to Earth in the Metro DC Area” ASP Conference Series Vol. 431: Science Education and Outreach: Forging a Path to the Future (2010): 363-367.
Krishnamurthi, A., Eyermann, S. E., Mitchell, S. E., & Lochner, J. C. “Afterschool Universe: Bringing Astronomy Down to Earth” ASP Conference Series Vol. 400: Preparing for the 2009 International Year of Astronomy (2008): 415-421.
Mitchell, S., Drobnes, E., Colina-Trujillo, M.S., and Noel-Storr, J. “NASA Family Science Night: Changing perceptions one family at a time” Advances in Space Research Vol. 42, Issue 11 (2008): 1844-1847.
Mitchell, S., Krishnamurthi, A., Lochner, J., and Barbier, B. “Portfolio on a Shoestring” ASP Conference Series Vol. 389: EPO and a Changing World (2008): 335-341.
Noel-Storr, J., Drobnes, E., and Mitchell, S. “Family Astronomy: Improving Practices and Developing New Approaches” ASP Conference Series Vol. 389: EPO and a Changing World (2008): 309-316.