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The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Education and Communications portfolio includes products, events, and programs aligned with priority areas identified by the federal Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Education (CoSTEM). This portfolio of activities engages audiences in the story, the science, and the adventure of NASA's scientific explorations of our home planet, the solar system, and the universe beyond.

This Projects Tab contains links to individual project descriptions, including overviews, audiences served, reports, evaluation information, contact information, websites, and other features, organized by CoSTEM goals. The list of projects can be narrowed using the filters on the left sidebar. Click on a project’s name to view details. View activities that have been completed.

These projects are applicable to Undergraduate Student Experiences

These projects are applicable to Working with Diverse Audiences

Youth and Public Engagement
Undergraduate Student Experiences
Working with Diverse Audiences
Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA)

The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors project aims to measurably enhance student STEM achievement & engagement in selected school districts via professional development for teachers consisting of: (1) astrophysics & planetary science content & pedagogy delivered via webinars & in-person workshops; (2) a week-long STEM immersion experience at NASA’s science research aircraft facility in Palmdale, California, including participation in research flights on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA); (3) follow-through involving continuing webinars fostering connections with astrophysics & planetary science subject matter experts. AAA impact on student STEM learning & engagement is evaluated by WestEd.


Aquarius Communications and Public Engagement (CPE) provides content on salinity, ocean circulation, the water cycle and climate for educational purposes. The content is made available through in-person (e.g., workshops, presentations at conferences) and online events (e.g., webinars).

Astromaterials Education/Solar System Science For University Mentors and Facilitators/Pre-Service Educators

Astromaterials Education/Solar System Science For University Mentors and Facilitators/Pre-Service Educators
These are workshops and trainings for college students developed thematically around the topics of solar system science and astromaterials. The participants are prepared to share the science appropriately with K-12 audiences by extending their knowledge and giving them a hands-on experience with classroom activities. These are usually offered within a conference or larger professional development event. The standard content of solar system science and astromaterials is shared thematically to address the audiences’ needs or requests. The content is delivered through speakers, video, and hands-on activities. 


Chandra X-ray Observatory Education and Outreach Program

Chandra provides a multifaceted Education and Public Outreach (EPO) program encompassing press relations, public outreach and education that reaches a large and diverse audience of national and international scope. Chandra’s program plays a key role in NASA’s EPO portfolio, synthesizing and disseminating results from NASA’s exploration of the high-energy Universe into a broad suite of programs and activities focused on increasing science literacy and contributing to science, mathematics, engineering and technology (STEM) education. 

Discovery and New Frontiers: Mentor Training for NASA Space Science Days

Thematic training for college student-mentors preparing to lead a Discovery Program focused NASA Space Science Day event. The NSSD events are sponsored by an EPOESS grant to Charlie Galindo-ARES-JSC. The workshop offers mission content, hands-on experience with classroom activities, and strategies for implementing.


Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts:
• Create a new sequence of Girl Scout Space Science badges for all program levels, ages 5-18 • Develop Volunteer Tool Kit Space Science badge online support for girls and leaders • Provide Train-the-Trainer experiences for GSUSA leaders at authentic observatory and NASA sites • Enable a network of NASA SMEs and astronomy and space science volunteers (e.g. Night Sky Network) to connect with and support Girl Scouts • Offer GSUSA Destinations including 2017 total solar eclipse • Provide interactive experiences in person and online with NASA SMEs • Develop a sustainable relationship between NASA and GSUSA


The purpose of the Fermi E/PO program is to increase student and public understanding of the science of the high-energy Universe, through inspiring, engaging and educational activities linked to the mission’s science objectives. The E/PO program has additional more general goals, including increasing the diversity of students in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline, and increasing public awareness and understanding of Fermi science and technology. Fermi’s multi-faceted E/PO program includes elements in each major outcome category:

Girl Scouts Earth Science Patch

 The CloudSat team also supports the development of new Girl Scout “Earth Science” Patches for Daises, Brownies, Juniors, and Cadettes. The objective of the CloudSat informal education programs is to provide a NASA mission-connected pathway to help learners better understand the nature of clouds and their role in Earth's atmospheric system.


The GLOBE Mission EARTH (GME) is embedding NASA assets into the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) Program and integrating it into the grades K-20 science and STEM curricula. GME is leveraging existing partnerships and networks and supported through state departments of education, as  a systemic, effective, and sustainable approach to meeting NASA’s science education objectives. 


The GRACE higher ed program provides summer research experiences, short workshops, seminars to early career scientists, pre-service education faculty and students underrepresented in Earth and Space Science. The project is carried out through SMD missions and competitively selected awardees working in partnership with higher education institutions. The objective is to deepen their understanding of SMD science and technology so they are better prepared to contribute to the STEM workforce and training of future educators.

High School Intern Program

 STEM Enhancement in Earth Science, or SEES, is a nationally competitive summer intern program for students in grades 10 and 11. NASA, the Texas Space Grant Consortium and The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research, or UT/CSR, have joined forces to provide this opportunity for high school students to increase their understanding of and interest in STEM careers.

Scientists and engineers at UT/CSR are conducting NASA-supported research in astronomy, remote sensing and space geodetic techniques to help understand Earth systems, natural hazards and climate science. The SEES project provides selected students with exposure to Earth and space research. Participants will learn how to interpret NASA satellite data while working with scientists and engineers in their chosen area of work.

Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is the home of the Hubble Space Telescope and the future James Webb Space Telescope. E/PO programs for the Hubble and Webb space telescopes are designed to bring the wonders of the universe to the general public and the formal and informal education communities, and engage our target audiences in the adventure of scientific discovery.

LADEE: Navajo Tech Model Building

The Navajo Tech Model Building activity is a collaboration between LADEE and the Computer Aided Design and Modeling Program at Navajo Technical College. Students in the program learn to produce solid 3-D models of the LADEE spacecraft for use by the LADEE mission and its EPO programs. The faculty of Navajo Tech provides students with instruction on equipment, materials, software, and techniques for model building while LADEE provides spacecraft CAD files, a lunar science overview, and mission briefing.

Mars Exploration Program: MRO/CRISM:  Student Data Team (High School)

The Mars Exploration Student Data Team (PI) program engages high school and undergraduate students with data from the CRISM instrument which is seeking traces of past and present water on the Martian surface. MESDT students have the opportunity to join the science team in the analysis of data from the CRISM instrument. The program provides students with authentic research experiences in the classroom, is conducted via distance learning technologies, and is designed to provide maximum flexibility for student teams.

MOU American Camp Association

A memorandum of understanding between NASA and the American Camp Association went into effect November 30, 2012. It is the intent of NASA to provide printed and Internet-accessible material and information to be disseminated to youth utilizing the ACA capabilities. Through this partnership, NASA will:

  • broaden the STEM-related educational resources that are available to the camp community,
  • promote ACA and ACA-resources to broader audiences,
  • enhance professional development opportunities for camp professionals.

This cross-forum effort is being led by the Planetary Science Forum.

NAI: Astrobiology REU at Penn State (Icy)

This project hosts summer undergraduate interns at the NAI's Penn State University team.  It's purpose is to provide an in-depth research experience for undergraduates with astrobiology researchers at PSU. The program occurs at Penn State University for 10 weeks during the summer session. The students participate in independent research under the guidance of one or more astrobiologists, a field trip to NASA and astrobiology-related sites around Washington, D.C., weekly seminars, laboratory tours, stargazing opportunities, discussion group, and a research symposium. Five interns were hosted by PSU faculty in the Summer of 2011.

NAI: Astrobiology REU at Penn State (Icy)

This project hosts summer undergraduate interns at the NAI's Penn State University team.  It's purpose is to provide an in-depth research experience for undergraduates with astrobiology researchers at PSU. The program occurs at Penn State University for 10 weeks during the summer session. The students participate in independent research under the guidance of one or more astrobiologists, a field trip to NASA and astrobiology-related sites around Washington, D.C., weekly seminars, laboratory tours, stargazing opportunities, discussion group, and a research symposium. Five interns were hosted by PSU faculty in the Summer of 2011.

NAI: Montana Native American Outreach (MSU)

This project hosts three science days during the school year at three elementary schools in the St. Labre school system (nearly 100% Native American from the nearby Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations) in eastern Montana.  Its purpose is to expose elementary students underrepresented in STEM to astrobiology science and careers. Teachers and students conducted three pre-lessons, the science day, and a post-lesson to evaluate  the value of the interaction.  

NAI: Summer Interns at JPL (Icy)

This project hosts summer undergraduate interns at the NAI's Icy Worlds Team at JPL.  It's purpose is to provide an in-depth research experience for undergraduates with astrobiology researchers at JPL.  Ten interns were hosted by four faculty in the Summer of 2011.

NAI: Support to Undergraduate Conference at LPSC (Central)

This project supports undergrads from across the US to participate in the 2011 LPSC Undergraduate Conference.  Its purpose is to expose undergrads to the scientific conference environment and mentor them to pursue careers in science.  This NAI funding supports the larger project funded by EPOESS.

NASA All-Stars

NASA All-Stars is a summer STEM research experience for teams of students, teachers, and librarians from Chicago-area public, private, and parochial schools.  Assisted by program staff, four experienced teacher-mentors, and scientists from the Astronomy & Astrophysics Center, teams undertake authentic research projects using astronomical data as they discover astronomy across the electromagnetic spectrum.  The program makes use of our Multiwavelength Astronomy website, which presents the history, science, tools, and impact of astronomy across the electromagnetic spectrum, through story-based lessons told by scientists who are pioneers in their field.  The story-based lessons include personal accounts of scientists' early life, education, and career to highlight the various pathways into the scientific enterprise.  NASA All-Stars program elements include small-group, hands-on activities led by teacher-mentors, labs and demonstrations provided by scientists, Skype sessions with scientist-contributors the Multiwavelength Astronomy website, tours of campus and the University libraries, and presentations by college bridge and admissions staff.  Students who participate in the program receive a computing device for reading lessons, doing research, presenting their work, and blogging.  The blogging is an important component of the program for documenting students' experience.  Each student also receives a family membership to the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum.

New Horizons: Student Dust Counter (SDC) Web Site - (2.3.22)

In addition to the students who created the instrument, the SDC’s own education and outreach team maintain a Web site that features the inside story of the instrument’s development and video interviews with team members. The SDC project is blazing a trail for future student-built instruments.  (

New Horizons: Student Dust Counter Instrument and Program (K-12 and Undergraduate)

The Student Dust Counter (SDC) is a 20-year homework assignment, but you won’t hear any complaints from the students handed the task. Designed by students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, SDC is detecting dust grains produced by collisions among asteroids, comets, and Kuiper Belt objects during New Horizons’ journey. It is the first science instrument on a NASA planetary mission to be designed, built, and “flown” by students.  With faculty supervision, the students also are distributing and archiving data from the instrument and lead a comprehensive education and outreach effort to bring their results and experiences to classrooms of all grades over the next decade.

NLSI: NASA Academy NLSI Fellowship

NLSI supported the NASA Ames Academy through support of a student in addition to support of their summer project of lunar dust and biological systems interactions.  The undergraduate or graduate students spends 10 weeks at NASA Ames working alongside an ARC scientist. They are exposed to research at three other NASA centers (KSC, DFRC, JPL) and a wide variety of other research and commercial institutions (e.g. Desert Research Institute, Space Systems Loral, SpaceX).  The summer additionally included leadership training, team building exercises and approximately 20 seminars in order to expand their horizons and expose them to the whole space community. 

NLSI: Summer Student Internship Program

The NLSI Summer Student Intern is a grade 10-14 student support program. The program provides a 10 weeks summer research experience for grade 10-14 students. The purpose of the program is to increase the U.S. talent pool of lunar scientists by providing high school and two year college students an opportunity to spend a summer working on lunar science research with lunar scientist from the NLSI and attracting them to pursue graduate level studies in lunar science.


The purpose of the NuSTAR E/PO program is to increase student and public understanding of the science of the high-energy Universe, through a multi-faceted education and outreach program that capitalizes on the synergy of existing high-energy astrophysics E/PO programs to support the mission’s objectives. Science content goals of the E/PO program are aligned with mission science goals and include: Facilitate understanding of the nature of collapsed objects; Develop awareness of the role of supernovae in creating the chemical elements ; Facilitate understanding of the physical properties of the extreme Universe. The E/PO program has additional more general goals, including increasing the diversity of students in the STEM pipeline, and increasing public awareness and understanding of the NuSTAR science and technology program. 

Rosetta Native American Initiative

The ROSETTA education and public outreach (E/PO) informal efforts include work with Native American Reservation Educators and Administrators to bring space and planetary science to Native American communities. The ROSETTA team is working with Reservation Educators and Administrators to bring together Tribal Elders and First Speakers to better understand the community needs and concerns in planetary and space science through language preservation. Rosetta Project Scientist and Education Lead continue to work with Native Americans using language to introduce STEM Education and activities in the classroom.  This fiscal year we will work closely with Reservation Educators and Administrators to bring together Tribal Elders and First Speakers to better understand the community needs and concerns in Planetary and Space Science through language preservation.

Solar System Treks

Solar System Treks Project (SSTP) provides: 1. planetary data products that are georeferenced, 2. data services (web APIs) for data access, 3. tools (a set of web-based portals, mobile applications, VR goggles and touch table implementations) that support measurement and study of planetary terrain and facilitate 3D printing of surface terrain, 4. infrastructure/platform that support visualization, exploration and research of landscapes for planetary bodies and Earth.

Solar Week

A twice-yearly week of online games, activities  and curriculum about the Sun for middle school and early high school students.  There is a special emphasis on engaging girls in science, but students of both genders are welcome. There is also an interactive element where students can ask questions of leading solar scientists (who are all female) on an online bulletin board. Solar Week takes place each fall and spring, during the latter parts of October and March.

Space Telescope High School Internship Program

This program for high school students underrepresented in STEM is implemented by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in partnership with select local schools. The program is designed to reinforce science content and process skills, as well as provide opportunities to apply STEM processes through mentoring and job shadowing. Current partner schools include Towson High School and City Neighbors High School in Baltimore City.

Space Telescope Undergraduate Internship Program

This program provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to extend their high school experience at Space Telescope Science Institute, participate in STEM-related activities in consultation with Office of Public Outreach staff, and serve as role-models for high school interns. In order to provide sustained and intensive experiences for students, prior participants in our high school internship program are selected as candidates.

Student Planetary Investigators (PI)

The Student PI program provides high school and undergraduate students with authentic research experiences in the classroom using NASA data. The program is free, open to students and their teachers nationwide, is conducted via distance learning technologies and is designed to provide maximum flexibility for student teams. Live classroom sessions are mostly conducted during after school hours and sessions are archived for teams that wish to watch at alternate times. Students communicate directly with science team members and peers through an online bulletin board system. Currently students may choose to work with curriculum and data sets from Mercury, Mars, or the Moon as they work toward developing their own hypotheses and research projects. Student capstone projects include the presentation of original research projects to fellow student researchers and NASA scientists across the country.

Tactile Astronomy

Tactile Astronomy supports efforts in bringing the wonders of the universe to everyone, regardless of their visual ability. This section of the Amazing Space website features "Images of the Month" — a collection of the latest Hubble images that can be printed in a tactile format.  The images are specifically designed to be downloaded and printed on a thermal paper expansion machine, thus allowing the visually impaired to feel what they cannot see. 

Undergraduate Student Instrument Project (USIP) Solicitation: NNH15ZDA010C

Through a pilot cooperative agreement notice or CAN the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant) awarded more than $8 million through the competitively selected Undergraduate Student Instrument Project (USIP) to 47 teams of undergraduate students to conduct hands-on flight research. 8 SMD cooperative agreements shared $550,000 in total with award sizes ranging from $50,000-$100,000. Space Grant awards averaged $200,000 for each of 39 cooperative agreements. In addition, SMD and Space Grant are paying the cost of government-furnished launch and other services described in the 2015 USIP CAN NNH15ZDA010C available at:{FABD5D3A-878E-A99F-5D05-87AAD356CC9E}&path=closedPast

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), in Wallops Island, Virginia, leads technical and scientific reviews for the 47 teams planning to fly on suborbital and orbital vehicle platforms, such as CubeSats, aircraft, sounding rockets, and balloons. In addition, USIP CubeSats are part of the larger NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative or CSLI managed by the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. CSLI provides opportunities for small satellite payloads built by universities, high schools and non-profit organizations to fly on upcoming launches. For more CSLI information visit:

Prior to the collaborative CAN NNH15ZDA010C pilot that involves WFF, HEO and Space Grant, SMD did a proof-of-concept CAN numbered NNH13ZDA004N that resulted in 10 awards. A copy of the first USIP CAN and the selection abstracts can be downloaded from:{0C22969D-FD8F-1AEB-CBFB-5DAACA749452}&path=closedPast

CAN NNH15ZDA010C's 47 project titles and list of awarded higher education institutions can found at:

The 39 Space Grant funded abstracts are located at:

The 8 SMD-funded abstracts are in a PDF that may be downloaded from the section of this page entitled:



Van Allen Probes: Girl Power STEM Expo

Girl Power is an annual STEM expo for middle and high school girls exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics hosed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the event is free and open to the public.  The one day event is designed to attract and retain girls in STEM fields, stressing that women are making a difference, changing the world, and transforming the future.  Van Allen Probes E/PO staff, scientists and engineers host a booth at the event, and discuss the science and engineering of this Sun-Earth mission.  Girl Power features hands-on activities and challenges, cool demonstrations, workshops, and take-home material.  Girls have the opportunity to talk with professional women in STEM careers such as aerospace, computer science, electrical engineering, geology, information technology, and space mission engineering, cyber awareness; college and career presentations are provided.  Girl Power is in alignment with the goal of “developing and providing transformative STEM outreach opportunities that help prepare our future workforce to be problem solvers and thought leaders who have the ability to make critical contributions both locally and globally”.

X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission - Newton

Synergistically combining resources from several other high-energy X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy missions, the XMM-Newton E/PO program from 2003-2010 was aligned with all three of NASA’s Education Outcomes. Outcome 1: We have contributed to the development of the STEM workforce by working with dozens of students at the community college and university levels in partnership with SSU’s new MESA Engineering program and similar programs at other local community colleges. We have also engaged dozens of high school and college students in authentic XMM-inspired research experiences through our Global Telescope Network. Outcome 2: We have attracted and worked to retain hundreds of underserved students in STEM disciplines through after-school programs in partnership with local schools, where we use NASA-approved products to enhance science and technology education. We have also trained thousands of K-12 teachers with our highly popular and NASA-approved formal educational products. Outcome 3: We have built strategic partnerships with informal education providers to promote STEM literacy and awareness of NASA’s mission, inspiring tens of thousands of the public and young people through multi-media presentations, websites and the Night Sky Network and bringing exciting XMM-Newton mission science to diverse audiences.

Beginning in 2010, due to significant reductions in the XMM-Newton E/PO program budget, we have chosen to strategically focus our efforts on highly-leveraged and demonstrably successful activities, including the wide-reaching Astrophysics Educator Ambassador program, and our popular website Epo’s Chronicles. We have also continued to make major contributions working collaboratively through the Astrophysics Science Education and Public Outreach Forum (SEPOF) on identified high-need activities: the on-line educator professional development course “NASA’s Multiwavelength Universe” and the Astro 4 Girls program.