Space Weather Action Center

Program Element / Activity Title:
Space Weather Action Center
E/PO Project Name:
Sun-earth Days
Contact Information:
Elaine Lewis
Sun-Earth Day and Space Weather Action Center
Curriculum Development
Program Element / Activity Website:
Program Element / Activity Partners within NASA:
ERC, Challenger Centers
Short Description:

Imagine being able to monitor the progress of an entire solar storm from the time it erupts from our sun until it sweeps past our small planet effecting enormous changes in our magnetic field. Now imagine being able to do all of this from your classroom-based Space Weather Action Center (S.W.A.C.)! By following the basic steps in the Instructional Guide your class will soon be on its way to accessing, analyzing and recording NASA satellite and observatory data. You will also want to download the 'step-by-step' Educator's Setup Guide where you will find a variety of recommendations and diagrams showing you how to construct a fully functional SWAC inside your classroom while keeping potential limitations on classroom space and technology in mind.

Once established your class will be ready to move into the second cross-disciplinary phase of the program where they will transform their journal data into real S.W.A.C. news reports! We've made this phase easy by providing an adaptable SWAC script! All they have to do is fill in the missing pieces based on the data collected in their student journals. In the S.W.A.C. Setup Guide we have suggested several very inexpensive alternative methods by which you can produce multimedia Space Weather Action Reports.

Download the student Flip Charts and Data Collection Sheets from the Downloadable Materials page. Each Flip Chart offers 'Step by Step' instructions on how to quickly retrieve and transfer data to specified Data Collection Sheets. We have divided all of the Space Weather Action Center resources into four 'color-coded' categories: Sunspot Regions (orange), Storm Signals (green), Magnetosphere (blue) and Aurora (purple). The same color code scheme is used in the flipchart, the data collection sheets and on the Live Data and Tutorials webpage. You can always know which section you're in with one quick glance!

For those educators wishing to incorporate SWAC as a classroom learning experience, we have also provided an Instructional Guide and a Flip chart Guide.

Each SWAC contains the following elements:

  • Computer (Internet Access Required)
  • Instructional Flip Charts (Assembly Required)
  • Data Collection Clipboards or Notebooks (Assembly Required)
  • SWAC Display Board or Bulletin Board (Assembly Required)

Students are encouraged to design their action centers with readily available art supplies and downloadable NASA imagery. This artistic approach instills a sense of student ownership and establishes NASA as a visual point of interest in the classroom environment.

Use the introductory steps provided in the Flip Charts to quickly access and retrieve space weather data. Each Flip Chart is directly linked to specific Data Collection Sheets that will allow you to quickly record and analyze the necessary sets of data. You will find that the data collection sheets follow the same sequence and color coding as the flip charts: Sunspot Regions (orange), Storm Signals (green), Magnetosphere (Blue), Auroras (Purple).

Once you have created your SWAC your class will be ready to move into the second cross-disciplinary phase of the program: creating real SWAC news reports! We've made this phase easy by providing your students with a sample script! All they have to do is fill in the missing pieces based on the data collected in their student journals.

Now it's lights, camera, action! You are finally ready to turn your script into a multimedia broadcast complete with current NASA data and dazzling graphics! If your school isn't equipped with a broadcasting studio, don't worry! We've suggested several very inexpensive methods by which you and your class can produce professional looking Space Weather Action Reports.

The SWAC website is an extremely robust "one stop shopping' learning tool complete with step-by-step tutorials on how to interpret live or 'near real time' space weather data from 10 missions and 36 instruments. All of the data links required to make your space weather observations are located on a single webpage called Space Weather Data. Beside each of the 'live data' links you will also find 'tutorial' links containing easy to read tutorials that that will help you when interpreting the data. You can always find your place by returning to this page!

Program Element / Activity Image / Visual:
Monitor a Solar Storm in Your Classroom
Awards Received:
Part of the Sun-Days Program the education feature
Program Element / Activity Status
Please upload any program element / activity documents (reports, publications, or other) to share with the Public, Community, and SMD:
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
  • Increase and Sustain Youth and Public Engagement in STEM
What are the goals and objectives of your program element / activity?:
Utilize SWAC to give educators access to Heliophysics data and provide educators additional heliophysics knowledge through professional development activities

Identify and promote increased interest in heliophysics and provide the means to pursue these interests in education environments

Promote diverse under-represented audience participation in heliophysics programs
What is the design of the evaluation process for your program element / activity?:
As SWAC is an on-going program, it has been evaluated to meet stated goals and objectives as in this proposal. Throughout this proposal outcomes and metrics are emphasized in italics in the areas describing each program. We have followed a set of metrics and will enter these metrics into NASA’s Office of Education Performance Measurement (OEPM), in the past all of the work in the development and maintenance of SWAC has been through SED. With the revisions and additions we feel funding and a devoted staff is needed to set firm metrics in place as well as a more robust program that will then be maintained through SED.
What are the main impacts of your effort to date and how do they correlate to the project's goals and objectives:
SWAC has been a featured program within the highly recognized Sun-Earth Days which began in 2001 with an audience of 9000 and has grown each year with millions taking part during events such as eclipses and transits (over 500 million participants world-wide for the Transit of Venus in 2012). SWAC was established in 2003 as a component of Sun-Earth Days. It has gone through 4 revisions based on educator input; currently involved are 3000 educators world-wide and the Challenger Center network. Educators stated within our external evaluation that through the resources and step by step tutorials they recognized their own gains in knowledge of and confidence in teaching Heliophysics.
SWAC uses a “multimission” approach to E/PO activities encouraged by the Heliophysics Division to emphasize the “system-science” of heliophysics. In SWAC, the videos, audio vodcasts, science content are designed to emphasize the interconnection of the Sun, solar wind, magnetosphere, and ionosphere; the prominence of the plasma state and plasma physics in these regions; and the effects of geomagnetic activity on the human experience on Earth.