Van Allen Probes: Space Academy

Program Element / Activity Title:
Van Allen Probes: Space Academy
E/PO Project Name:
Van Allen Probes
Contact Information:
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100 Johns Hopkins Rd, MS 200-E181, Laurel, MD 20723
Program Element / Activity Website:
Program Element / Activity Partners within NASA:
Short Description:

Space Academy is a hands-on, minds-on experience designed to engage and excite both middle school students and teachers about current NASA missions. It takes students behind the scenes of actual space missions and introduces them to engineers and scientists working on some of NASA’s most exciting projects. In the format of a mini-NASA press conference, the daylong event includes briefings by Van Allen Probes mission team members represented by varying backgrounds, careers, and roles on the mission. Students play the role of reporters, and come prepared to ask the scientists and engineers questions about the mission.  Student discussions with scientists and engineers continue during lunch, followed by a tour of space simulation labs, science/engineering demonstrations--even a peek as the Van Allen Probes were being built in the cleanroom.  Weeks before the actual events, students learned about the mission, its science theme, and space-related careers through classroom activities and videos developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory and Discovery Education.  Schools in underserved, underrepresented communities are targeted.



Program Element / Activity Status
Audience Metrics
Who is the primary audience of your program element / activity?:
Who is the secondary audience of your program element / activity?:
National Priorities and Coordination Approaches as Articulated in CoSTEM:
  • Improve STEM Instruction
What are the goals and objectives of your program element / activity?:
One goal is to interest students in pursuing STEM studies and careers by providing an enjoyable day of learning about NASA's space missions and technology. Students are amazed about the objectives of the mission, and the challenges. We hope to change the stereotyped perception of scientists and engineers by having panelists touch on the personal (e.g., how they got started in their career choice, what subjects they may have liked or not liked, and what their amazing hobbies are). Students seem to relate to this approach, and the goal is for them to be able to see themselves as scientists or engineers in the future.
Have your evaluation findings / impacts been published? If so, where?:
No, this is part of the overall Van Allen Probes E/PO effort which is ongoing. The evaluation report will be published at the conclusion of the overall project.