Mission Name:
Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions During Substorms-Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon's Interaction with the Sun (THEMIS-ARTEMIS) Education and Public Outreach (E/PO)

Project Description:
The primary goal of the THEMIS-ARTMIS Education and Public Outreach Program is to inspire students towards careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields by providing professional development opportunities and resources for formal and informal educators and to inform the general public about the THEMIS-ARTEMIS missions and related scientific discoveries.


  1. Informal Educators who become Heliophysics Educator Ambassadors (HEAs) increase their knowledge of heliophysics content and NASA THEMIS/ARTEMIS missions.
  2. Informal Educators who become HEAs train formal educators on heliophysics content using HEA lessons developed by NASA missions.
  3. Teachers find the heliophysics Community of Practice for formal educators useful in teaching heliophysics in their classroom.
  4. Teachers, students and the general public gain awareness of the THEMIS/ARTEMIS missions and related heliophysics concepts.
  5. Teachers & students learn scientific practices by using THEMIS magnetometer data in student research projects.

Community of Practice: In FY13, the THEMIS-ARTEMIS E/PO initiated a Heliophysics Community of Practice (CoP) for formal educators, in partnership with the Van Allen Probes E/PO and the NASA Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Forum. Communities of Practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis. In this case, the members of the Heliophysics CoP are middle and high school teachers who have been a part of individual mission E/PO education programs and networks who want to deepen their Heliophysics content knowledge, increase their STEM teaching skills, support their students in learning STEM and interact with the other Heliophysics educators. The CoP also provides opportunities for teachers to interact directly with NASA SMD Mission scientists, engineers and other personnel. During FY13, 12 teachers were selected from several teacher networks associated with NASA SMD heliophysics missions to act as CoP Lead Teachers. These teachers and the participating heliophysics mission E/PO staff are meeting during FY13 to shape the design of the CoP and invite teachers from all NASA Heliophysics E/PO teacher networks to participate in the CoP.

GEONS Project: Since 2004, the THEMIS mission E/PO program has operated the Geomagnetic Event Observation Network by Students (GEONS) project, which installed ground-based magnetometers in rural schools in traditionally under-served, underrepresented communities. Teachers in these schools were trained on how to work with ‘real-time’ magnetometer data with their students. The THEMIS mission E/PO has continued to maintain connection with these teachers (see Peticolas et al., 2008 for more information about the THEMIS magnetometer program). This project directly provides broad accessibility and usability of THEMIS data for use in middle and high school classrooms.

Mission website: THEMIS-ARTEMIS E/PO maintains a website that is geared towards middle and high school teachers, their students as well as the general public. This website serves as a portal for providing information about mission news and scientific results, as well curriculum resources for teachers.

Public Outreach Project Support: THEMIS-ARTEMIS supports two public outreach events which are held annually. Both “Cal Day”, which is held at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley, and “Exploring Your Universe”, which is held at UCLA in Los Angeles, are attended by students, teachers and the general public. Cal Day includes free tours of the lab, a special program in the Mission Operations Center where satellites are monitored, science talks about on-going space missions (including THEMIS and ARTEMIS), a career panel, multiple booths with related fun hands-on activities, a solar telescope, and more ( Activities at Exploring Your Universe include science demonstrations, hands-on activities, lectures and more (

GEMS Site Launch: A second formal education component involved the THEMIS team partnering with the Berkeley-based Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) in 2005 to create a GEMS Network site at the Carson City School District in Carson City, Nevada. The highlight of this launch was a two-day teacher professional development workshop. GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) is a proven resource for excellence in inquiry-based mathematics and science with guides used nationwide from preschool through eighth grade.

Short-term Workshops: The third and final formal education component of the THEMIS program consisted of short-term professional development workshops presented to K-12 teachers nationwide. They offered some of the same THEMIS-related content that was presented to the GEONS teachers, except that these workshops were one-time events having durations of only one-hour to two days; not ongoing professional development projects like GEONS. Primarily, the workshops were conducted at state and national conferences. Special effort was made to reach teachers with Native American and Latino students by presenting workshops at such venues as AISES and SACNAS. In most cases, presentations of THEMIS-related materials/ideas were made in partnership with other NASA-sponsored missions and programs. Partnering with the ELISA project provided unique opportunities to further extend the reach of the program by targeting teachers of students in Latino/Hispanic populations.

Public Outreach—Beyond the Classroom: ‘Spreading the word’ about THEMIS-related science to venues beyond the classroom entailed two informal, public outreach components—the Web site and the ViewSpace museum show. The Web site opens the ‘window on the soul’ of the mission’s discoveries in a language accessible to a general audience as well as serving as a valuable resource/reference for teachers and students alike. The ViewSpace presentation—‘Probing the Mysterious Aurora’—has captured the attention of planetarium and science center visitors around the world by drawing them into the story of THEMIS.

Lead Institution:
Center for Science Education, Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley


  • Van Allen Probes (teacher professional development workshops)
  • IBEX, CINDI, RHESSI, TIMED, Voyager, MMS, Van Allen, Solar Probe Plus, IRIS, and SDO Education and Public Outreach Programs (Heliophysics Educator Ambassador program and the Community of Practice)

Number of K-12 Teachers, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 248
Number of K-12 Students, Direct Interactions, FY12 (From OEPM): 40

Additional metrics:
Number of Educators, Direct Interactions (Heliophysics Educator Ambassador program, FY09-11): 84

The 84 formal educators trained as trainers in the Heliophysics Educator Ambassador program used the GEMS Space Science Sequence for Grades 6-8 with their own students (totaling 13,400), and offered workshops for an additional 3954 educators, who in turn used what they learned with almost 400,000 students.

Effectiveness and Impact:

GEONS Project (Formal Education):

  • Placed magnetometers sites at 13 rural, underserved schools/communities, two-fifths of which are on tribal lands
  • Provided intensive professional development for 20 teachers from 2004 through 2009
  • A core group of eight teachers estimated reaching more than 2,720 students with THEMIS-related materials/ideas
  • 75% of these students are minorities in science—either girls or non-Asian, non-White boys
  • Core teachers provided evidence of the project’s positive impact on students’ attitudes toward science and their choices for courses that position them for STEM-related careers
  • Core teachers reported sharing THEMIS-related materials/ideas with 275 colleagues
  • Assisted by select teachers piloting activities and offering feedback, the THEMIS team developed four teacher guides containing 17 THEMIS-related classroom activities
  • The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer featured the Petersburg, Alaska site potentially reaching more than 5 million viewers in two airings, according to Nielsen ratings
  • The PBS NewsHour piece was picked up by National Public Radio and made available on the Online NewsHour Web site where it was linked to NOVA Science NOW’s Web site
  • Nearly all core teachers have become involved in other NASA-related programs—Heliophysics Educator Ambassadors, GSFC’s Cosmic Times, SOPHIA, RBSE, etc.

GEMS Site Launch Professional Development Workshop:

  • Workshop participants reported having the potential to expose 3,500 preK-8 students to GEMS materials/ideas; One-third of these students represent minorities
  • Workshop participants reported having the potential to share GEMS materials/ideas with 1,500 colleagues; our three case study teachers alone shared GEMS with 150 colleagues
  • Some 180 teachers have participated in site workshops in the first three years after the launch
  • 50 teachers are on a LISTSERV and a Google group associated with the GEMS site

Short-term Workshops:

  • Throughout the grant period, the E/PO team conducted some 30 short-term workshops for 550 K-12 educators nationwide.
  • The vast majority of these workshops were done in partnership with other NASA missions and programs—ELISA, FAST, RHESSI, STEREO and SECEF.
  • The E/PO team estimates that within a year of the workshops’ participating teachers will reach upwards of 48,400 students and share THEMIS-related materials/ideas with around 2,200 colleagues.
  • A core group of these teachers reported that 68% of their students were underserved minorities in science education.

Public Outreach:

  • The THEMIS E/PO Web site has had close to 900,000 successful requests for pages since its launch in 2003.
  • Visitors from 118 countries, including the USA, have viewed the Web site since it was started in 2003.
  • The ViewSpace museum show is currently in 200 museums and science centers around the world and is estimated to have been shown 5,500 times per month.
  • The network of museums in which ViewSpace is exhibited grows at a rate of 3 to 4 per month.

Heliophysics Educator Ambassadors:

  • Nearly all HEAs (98%) responding to the online survey not only used the heliophysics-related materials for training other educators, but also integrated these materials in their own classrooms.
  • 59% the HEAs are most likely using GEMS/SS units.
  • 98% of the HEAs used the heliophysics-related materials with their students—reporting reaching a total of 8,095
  • This number exceeded their predicted expectations by 34% (6,036 students reached were predicted).
  • 50% of the teachers report these students developed an interest in space or in future study in science fields
  • HEAs conducted 141 well-received workshops, attended by 2,102 Tier 2 educators
  • Participating teachers were asked to rate the extent of their understanding of these presentations on a 4-point scale and their anticipated use of these materials/ideas on a 5-point scale. The presentations in each category were understood well enough as evidenced by category means ranging from 3.5 to 3.7 on a 4-point scale. HEAs also indicated that they were likely to use both activities/lessons and content as evidenced by category means ranging from 3.6 to 3.9 on a 5-point scale.
  • HEAs shared perceptions of their readiness to teach heliophysics to both their students and fellow teachers through rating a series of questions both at the beginning and at the end of the workshops. For both venues (Alaska and Chicago), HEAs were asked to indicate on a 5-point scale the extent to which they felt prepared to teach specific topics that had been presented at the workshops. On average, ratings of preparedness to instruct students increased 2.1 points and they anticipated training some 3,000 other educators. Their final mean ratings of 4.2, both for being prepared to teach students and other teachers, indicated that they indeed felt “well-prepared.”
  • Further support for HEAs level of preparedness can be found in their responses to open-ended questions that probed how they perceive their strengths and weaknesses and what challenges they faced as they readied themselves to conduct their own workshops. A summary of the key points HEAs made are:
    • More than half (53%) cited strengths in specific content knowledge, their passion for learning and keen interest in topics covered.
    • More than a third (35%) cited their abilities to use and share activities, materials and resources as being a source of strength in their preparations.
  • Many of the teacher trainers (37%) noted that they have enjoyed enhanced professional status being recognized as expert/lead teachers and have received other forms of recognition.
  • A third (33%) noted they have appreciated the opportunities open to them to improve their personal knowledge, confidence and expand their network.
  • According to 20% of the HEAs, oppotuities also opened up for them to present at conferences, gain acceptance to special workshops and obtain teaching positions at summer workshops in order to train more educators.

Audience quotes:

“Just because of this THEMIS experience, I’ve become involved in projects at UCLA and Santa Barbara where I can build up my career…the more intellectual side.”—GEONS Teacher

“My strength is in communication – my knowledge content has increased dramatically this week which will give me more strength in communicating the HEA experience.” —HEA Alaska 2009

“ I have had the opportunity since becoming an HEA to be a Solar System Educator Ambassador and a New Horizon Fellow both MASA programs. I have been asked to lead a day-long workshop at the Museum of Aviation in Warner Robins, GA and the to return to be a part of Georgia NASA STEM Day.” —Alaska HEA

“Obtained a Masters of Science in Teaching from Rice University. The awards I have received include MIT Leadership in Education Award and I was nominated for PAEMST by a NY teacher who participated in the HEA workshop last year in Chicago.” —Alaska HEA

“As an HEA, I have been given opportunities to present at state conferences and school district professional development workshops. I have received my Masters Degree in Science Teaching. I have also been selected as Teacher of the Year on my campus.” —Chicago HEA

“I was awarded the NSTA Wendell G. Mohling Outstanding Aerospace Educator Award last year.” —Chicago HEA