Mitch Watkins Mitch Watkins

NASA Science4Girls for the SMD E/PO Community: Astro E/PO Monthly Tag-Up Notes: October 23, 2012

Updated on February 24, 2016 - 8:26 AM CST
Posted on November 13, 2012 - 12:14 PM CST

Tags: NASA Headquarters | SMD E/PO Community | Tag-up (WebEx / Telecon) | Meeting Notes (Tag-ups, etc.)

SMD Astrophysics E/PO Monthly Tag-Up: October 23, 2012


A. NASA Updates
B. Astro4Girls 2013
C. Discovery Guides Update
D. Astro E/PO Community Retreat: Outcomes and Next Steps
E. Conferences Updates: ASTC and AAS

A. NASA Updates (Jim Lochner and Denise Smith)


NASA Communications Policies and Teleconference (Jim Lochner)

Earlier this month, there was a joint meeting of the NASA Coordinating Council and the Communication Coordinating Council. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss NPR 7120.5E, part of the book of policies for people doing flight projects. What they did was to codify the section on communication and education. What’s important for our community to understand is that the term “Public Affairs” has been replaced and is now referred to as “Communications”. Some of the NASA Centers may have already transitioned to the change in terminology. While education plans have been around for a while and there’s a schedule for doing them tied to the mission development schedule within SMD, it’s been less so for the rest of the Agency. Having communications plans is new across the Agency.

The NASA Office of Education – Office of Communications telecon following today’s TagUp will discuss the rollout of these plans and will include Ruth Netting, one of our communications people in SMD. Ruth will be speaking for a short period of time on the impact of this on SMD, and the means by which SMD will be complying with the new rules and regulations.

The upcoming telecon has been advertised widely through NASA. People from other NASA Centers will be participating along with people from other Mission Directorates. The intention is to give the information in an Agency-wide session; Stephanie Stockman and Jim welcome the community to tune into this.


I saw a couple of charts and it seemed that NASA is pulling public engagement out of E/PO and dividing it between both Public Affairs and the communication efforts that Ruth is in charge of, so it looks like there are two flavors to public engagement. Do you have any insight into that?


This is something that we noticed as well. We don’t have too much insight on this yet. The public affairs and communications folks are starting to use the term “public engagement” instead of “public outreach.” It wasn’t 100% clear how this is all going to pan out. One of the things that is clear is that we will continue to do the work we’ve been doing. Beyond that I can’t say too much more.

NASA Wavelength (Jim Lochner)

NASA Wavelength is now live ( Lindsay gave a sneak peek of it on the last telecon and it is now in the beta test version. Stephanie Stockman and Jim Lochner had a preview of it at the meeting with all of the Forum Leads earlier in October and are very pleased with it. They feel this is going to be a great resource for our audiences and for the community. The process really started when all four Forums undertook the product analysis effort, which was quite a significant undertaking, in inventorying all the SMD-funded education products that have passed the NASA Education Product Review and linking them to the AAAS Benchmarks. That really provided the foundational work for NASA Wavelength; and then, Theresa Schwerin and the Earth Science Forum team and Laura Peticolas and the Heliophysics Forum team collaborated in putting together the NASA Wavelength interface. Jim encouraged everyone to try out the site and provide feedback.

Data Call (Jim Lochner and Denise Smith)

Jim thanked the Forums, Denise and her team, and the work that they do in initiating the Data Call, and the work that the community does in responding to the Data Call. The Data Call is significant to NASA HQ because it provides important information that is used throughout the year to minimize the number of times SMD has to come to the community asking for information. Jim encouraged E/PO leads to respond to the Data Call promptly.

Denise thanked Mitch and Brandon for the work they did in preparing the Data Call to get it out to E/PO leads on time. In previous years, there’s been feedback from the community that everyone would really like to keep the Data Call out of the holiday season. That’s why it’s been sent earlier this year, so it won’t interfere with Thanksgiving or December conferences/holidays.

For those of you with EPOESS grants, your Data Call should look pretty straightforward. You Data Call will contain one line or just a few lines, depending on the number of EPOESS projects that you have. You’ll find that most of the cells have been filled in for you.

Everyone must input budget information in the budget cells. The Data Call will ask you for the amount of funds actually spent during fiscal year 12 (FY12) on your project. You’ll also be asked for the level of funding that you plan to spend on the project during the upcoming fiscal year, FY13, which started October 1, 2012.

The other portions of the Data Call show which of the NASA Agency level education outcomes your project is aligned with. There is also information about the title of your activity and the point of contact for your activity. That’s the Data Call in a nutshell.

Along with the Data Call spreadsheet, the email sent to E/PO leads contained overview information and a detailed letter from Stephanie Stockman and the reporting team. You’ll want to refer to that letter because there’s lots of information in there about how to estimate your budget. One of the key tips from the team is to keep it simple.

Again, for EPOESS awardees, most of you will have one line on your spreadsheet. If your project really does cover more than one NASA education outcome, you may want to consider adding a second line describing the outcome.

One quick tip for those of you who have been through this before: when you open your spreadsheet you may wonder if there are more columns this year from last year, and the answer is yes. The good news is most of the new columns have been pre-populated for you so you can focus on entering your budget information. The additional columns reflect different levels of granularity needed to capture the information requested by the Office of Education as well as SMD. Those of you that have been through this may recall we had two data calls last year. One collected budget information, the other collected project information for the Office of Education. This Data Call spreadsheet wraps all of that into one report so you’ll have everything in one place.

The OEPM project name column refers to the codes the Office of Education uses to categorize your programs at the very top level. The activity title is what you’ve been using in the past and what you’re used to using to describe your programs to SMD.

The project E/PO Lead column corresponds to the mission E/PO lead or the PI for an EPOESS award. The person listed as the project manager is the person who receives a NASA RSA security token to set up areas within OEPM to enter information about the number of participants in your project. The OEPM external user is the person on your team who actually goes in and enters participant information for workshops and events you’ve conducted during the year.

The spreadsheets are due back to the Forum on November 9th and again if you have questions don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact Denise Smith, Mitch Watkins, Jim Lochner or Bryan Mendez. Bryan chairs the reporting team for the Forums, and has done a tremendous amount of work to prepare this Data Call. Denise thanked Bryan for his contributions.

B. Astro4Girls (Denise Smith)

Last year community members within Astrophysics worked together to organize activities for girls and their families at nine public libraries during Women’s History Month. Girls and their families were able to participate in astronomy themed activities, explore the role of science in their lives and in careers, and learn about and talk with female astronomers and science educators. This pilot collaboration allowed us as a community to reach new audiences and explore best practices in engaging girls in STEM, to adapt activities for use with public libraries, and to explore and develop new relationships with public libraries. The role of community members in that collaboration was to partner with libraries and provide hands-on activities, materials for the libraries, and in some cases, they provided resource kits. Community members did professional development for librarians in person or through WebEx. Some community members held video chats with the girls and provided speakers; as a community we also connected libraries and ourselves with tips for engaging girls in STEM and put together a list of supporting resources and organizations for the libraries to use for programming during Women’s History Month.

The libraries conducted a range of activities which included displays highlighting women’s contributions, observing activities, StarLab activities, collaborations with local community organizations and their local schools, and in some cases professional development for local teachers in collaboration with their NASA Astrophysics partners. What we want to do as a community is look at where we go from here and get started with our planning for this year.

As Jim Lochner mentioned, the four Forums met earlier this month to talk about NASA Wavelength, how we’re supporting our communities, and the collaborations and group efforts going on within our communities. All of the Forum communities are excited about the work you all have been doing with Astro4Girls and they’re interested in participating in the program this coming year. Cassie Soeffing is on the call today from IGES, for example, and she’ll be connecting with the Earth Science community with respect to their participation in Astro4Girls.

This is an opportunity for all of us to bring librarians a greater range of resources and programming opportunities. It will also help us as a community to connect with a wider range of SMD E/PO projects and teams who have similar goals for engaging girls in STEM and reaching underserved audiences. We’ll also continue to disseminate resources in collaboration with the American Library Association (ALA), which will help everyone continue to build awareness within that community and to help a greater number of libraries participate even if they are not working directly with a NASA partner. For example, by having access to a list of resources that NASA partners are using with libraries, additional libraries maybe able to start incorporating NASA content into their programming and think about ways they can engage girls in STEM during Women’s History Month.

We’ve been doing some reflecting on how we can move forward during 2013 by chatting across the Forums and at the retreat in September. For this coming year, community members can partner with a library that they’re already working with. This is also a great opportunity to reach out to a library you’ve been thinking about working with and talk to them about how Women’s History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate women’s contributions to science and to explore organizing science programming in their libraries. If you’re interested in participating in Astro4Girls this coming year and don’t have a potential public library partner in mind, we can also work through the ALA and other library networks that our community has in place to find a library that you can partner with. Again, there are multiple ways to participate, you can work with libraries as some of our community members did last year, or you can provide input and resources to help us build that master list of resources to feature to the library community during Women’s History Month. Part of that will be to point libraries to NASA Wavelength itself, and we’re also aiming to call out items like profiles on women in science and other similar resources that you have as part of your programs.

If you’re interested in participating, we want to know by November 9th so we can get the group together and begin to have a conversation about exactly how we’re going to do it this year. That conversation will inform exactly how we communicate with public libraries so we can start the conversations between individual Astrophysics teams and their partner libraries.

The theme for 2013 is Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics

C. Discovery Guides (Suzy Gurton, Jessica Santascoy, Denise Smith)

The Forum is working with the community to sustain and build on some of the successful elements from the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). One of the approaches we found to be successful during IYA was the idea of highlighting celestial objects on a monthly basis in a way that really enabled audiences to discover the universe for themselves and connect to NASA science.

Suzy and Jessica gave an update on adapting the original IYA Discovery Guides for long-term use and incorporating best practices to focus on a more interpretive approach. For example, the updated guides will provide opportunities for audiences to extend their definition of neighborhood to include the sky above, and to make an emotional connection to seasonal astronomy objects that are places of interest for NASA missions and also accessible to amateur scopes. Elements will include tips on using the Guides, a prep sheet for the activity leader, and links to images, science discoveries, and activities. Ideas and feedback from community members have already shaped the adaptation of the Guides, and additional input is welcome. Suggestions received during the call included versions of the cosmic address activity that have passed the NASA Education Product Review: one from IBEX ( and one in Afterschool Universe. Use of the Kepler Star Wheels ( was also suggested. The first guide should be available in January 2013. The PowerPoint of the presentation and additional information is available online at /post/2764.

D. Astrophysics E/PO Community Retreat: Outcomes and Next Steps (Denise Smith)

Denise thanked and acknowledged everyone who was able to attend the Astrophysics E/PO Community retreat (internal meeting) in Chicago in September. A deeper discussion of the individual activities stemming from the retreat will be held via teleconferences, as well as by email and workspace for people unable to participate in the face-to-face meetings.

Quick highlights include: community members who have been working on the online professional development course for classroom educators (NASA’s Multiwavelength Universe) will be continuing that effort. They’re also looking at how to extend that community of practice to include educators from other Astrophysics E/PO professional development activities. We talked about Astro4Girls, as mentioned earlier on today’s call. Community members also discussed how we can build a directory of partnerships. Many of us have partners who are helping us reach underserved and underrepresented audiences; we want to find more efficient ways to share that information with each other. The work that Brandon has been coordinating with the community on interconnecting resources that use NASA data is continuing. The group also had an interesting discussion with Carolyn Brinkworth from IPAC on creating EduBites, where community members would come together to summarize some of the key findings from educational research.

Again, thank you to all of you who were able to come and participate and share your ideas. For those of you not able to attend, we’re working very hard to get information posted on the workspace and organize follow-up conversations that you will be able to participate in. Ed Prather’s presentation on reasoning difficulties is already posted on the workspace so you can take a look at that. (N.B. Retreat notes, in the form of annotated slides, have since been posted on the workspace at /post/4473).

E. Conference Updates: ASTC and AAS (Michelle Nichols and Denise Smith)


ASTC (Michelle Nichols)

Michelle reported on the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) annual conference that was held in Columbus, OH. This year, the SMD booth served over 300 attendees and featured NASA Wavelength. We also had a video monitor there and handed out materials. Michelle thanked everyone who sent materials. This year also featured six samplers, one-page sheets summarizing resources on topics of interest to informal educators. These were created based on feedback from attendees who visited last year’s booth. Michelle’s PowerPoint presentation will be posted on the workspace with the TagUp notes. In addition, before making the samplers publicly available online, feedback is requested from community members. Please download the samplers available at /post/4457. If you have suggestions on the samplers, please provide comments on the workspace page.

AAS (Denise Smith)

The 2013 Winter AAS is being held in Long Beach, CA in January. We will be having a Meeting of Opportunity for community members as we have in past years. Stay tuned for additional information.