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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 SMD Education and Communications Activity Overviews and Impacts

Youth and Public Engagement
Undergraduate Student Experiences
Working with Diverse Audiences
Afterschool Universe

Afterschool Universe is a nationally recognized hands-on astronomy program targeted at middle school children in out-of-school-time settings. The rigorously evaluated curriculum explores basic astronomy concepts through engaging hands-on activities and focuses on the Universe outside the solar system.

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.

Amazing Space STEM Projects Website

This site serves as a repository of current and future STEM opportunities available from the Space Telescope Science Institute.  Currently, the site features overviews of the Hubble Space Telescope Student ERO Pilot Project and the James Webb STEM Innovation Project. The site will be updated with additional information and opportunities over time.

Amazing Space Website

This award-winning website includes a comprehensive collection of standards-based, space science education materials. Site visitors can explore a variety of resources such as A Hubble Gallery, Online Explorations, Tonight’s Sky, and Star Witness News science content readings. The “For Educators” side of the site includes support materials such as science background information and overview pages that provide strategies for using Amazing Space activities in educational settings.


Astro-H is an X-ray observatory, scheduled for launch in 2015, that will explore extreme phenomena such as black holes, supernovae explosions, and clusters of galaxies. Astro-H is Japan's sixth X-ray astronomy mission, and is being developed at the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (ISAS/JAXA) with significant collaboration from U.S. (NASA/GSFC) and Japanese institutions. The Astro-H Education and Public Outreach portfolio will include elements to cover a range of audiences from formal and informal to outreach to the general public.

Astronomy Summer School of East Texas (ASSET)

ASSET is a summer workshop program for grades 6 - 12 in-service and pre-service science teachers from academically underachieving school districts. ASSET will instruct teachers on how to convey the nature of science to their students, as well as cover astronomy concepts, using NASA data. Each year 15 teachers will be selected from a group of applicants to participate in a two-week astronomy workshop. They will be instructed on the use of a number of lesson modules that incorporate NASA data, in a format that will allow them easily incorporate the material into their classroom lesson plans.

Big Explosions and Strong Gravity

Big Explosions and Strong Gravity is a curriculum for a day-long event for middle-school aged children in out-of-school-time.  During the event, students spend a day doing a series of hands-on activities on spectroscopy, cosmic abundances, supernovae, and black holes.

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. 


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:

Frontier Fields: Pushing the Limits of the Hubble Space Telescope

This Wordpress blog follows the science of the ongoing Frontier Fields program.  Hubble is embarking on the Frontier Fields program to image 12 new deep fields. With help from NASA’s other Great Observatories, the Frontier Fields program will provide a sneak peek at the first billion years of the universe.

Galileo Educator Network

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific and partner organizations are carrying out the "Galileo Educator Network" project, creating distributed and leveraged professional development nationwide with the primary goals to: (1) Help teacher educators and teacher professional development providers engage and educate teachers of astronomy (and general science), especially in grades 3-9, using effective instructional strategies and educational resources, with engaging and inspiring content; and (2) Promote the effective use of NASA-developed and NASA-supported resources by teacher educators and teacher professional development providers, through integration of astronomy/space science content with Galileo-inspired science inquiry and exploration

HEASARC Education and Public Outreach Program

Using data in the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) archive, scientists throughout the world study black holes, stars, supernovae, and the big bang. Through its Education and Public Outreach program, the HEASARC brings these objects to teachers and students using our Imagine the Universe! and StarChild websites, print materials, and educator workshops. 

Here, There and Everywhere

The physical processes of our natural world are on constant display. They shape our surroundings on scales large and small. Across the Universe, Nature does the same.

This series helps us better understand cosmic phenomena by looking and studying what we see close to home. BECAUSE WHAT HAPPENS HERE, HAPPENS THERE, AND EVERYWHERE.

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.

Hubble Hangouts

Hubble Hangouts are weekly live online talks using Google+'s video hangout feature. Hubble Hangouts feature a panel of astronomers discussing the astronomical topic of the day. Viewers are encouraged to participate by asking questions in the comments sections of YouTube and Google+, or on Twitter.  Hangouts are subsequently posted to YouTube for future viewing.

Hubble’s Magnificent Universe

This traveling exhibit, dedicated to the Hubble Space Telescope’s imagery, provides an opportunity for visitors to contemplate the symbiotic relationship of art and scientific exploration. The exhibit was created through a unique collaboration between the Walters Art Museum, the Johns Hopkins University, and scientists and other experts at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Standards-based support materials are available for host institutions.


IMPRESS-Ed provides an enriching STEM-oriented summer research experience in the space, earth, and atmospheric sciences for pre-service K-12 educators. This project is designed to give future teachers specialized training in research techniques in the physical sciences, in pedagogical techniques for teaching science, and to provide participants with an authentic research experience. Students participate in a two-week common module composed of interactive lectures and activities followed by a mentored research experience with physics faculty conducting research related to NASA missions.

James Webb STEM Innovation Project (SIP)

This standards-based, interdisciplinary STEM project focuses on the engineering aspects and potential science of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) while incorporating elements of project-based learning. It allows students to apply STEM processes, answer scientific questions, and develop cooperative learning skills. The SIP is underway in all 50 states and we are recruiting additional schools to participate.

Kepler Education and Public Outreach Program

Most of the products of Kepler E/PO and the resources we use in our presentations and teacher workshops are freely available on the Kepler website (  These include:



Computer Interactives:

Planetarium shows:

Presentation archive:

The Arts:

Media Galleries:

Music and Astronomy

Since 2009 the Music and Astronomy Under the Stars (MAUS) program has brought astronomy to 50,000 music lovers (800 - 5000 participants per event) throughout Long Island at classical, folk, pop/rock, opera, Caribbean, or county-western concerts in parks assisted by local astronomy clubs (55 events; 28 parks, 83% free, most festivals had low-cost admission and free admission for children). The Long Island based astronomy club, the Amateur Observers' Society of New York , is a partner with MAUS and has assisted with 48 of the MAUS events. MAUS also had events at the Central Park Jazz, Newport Folk, Ravinia music, the Tanglewood Music festivals and the Bethel Woods Center for 
the Arts (location of the 1969 Woodstock Festival).

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.

NASA Family Science Night

Family Science Night (FSN) is a curriculum in which middle- school-aged children and their families explore the importance of STEM in our daily lives by engaging in activities that make these concepts more practical and approachable. It covers a broad range of topics, from basic scientific processes to specific concepts such as the electromagnetic spectrum, the life cycles of stars, the reasons for Earth’s seasons, exploration of the Moon, and the ways in which we detect and study extrasolar planets.


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. 

Physics of the Cosmos and Cosmic Origins

The overall strategy of Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) and Cosmic Origins (COR) Education and Public Outreach is to infuse PCOS and COR science topics into established programs, as well as develop new projects to reach audiences from formal and informal education and the general public.

Planck Education and Public Outreach Program

The Planck Mission education and outreach projects focus on three main areas:

  1. Developing curricula and supplementary materials in the form of lecture notes and simulations for use in undergraduate (university and community college) education;
  2. Developing outreach materials in the form of interactive displays for museums and science centers and videos for distribution on the internet (YouTube);
  3. Citizen science projects in which global citizens can contribute directly to cosmology research that benefits the Planck Mission and allows individuals to become stakeholders in the data analysis and mission results.
Planck Mission in Virtual Reality

With this interactive simulation you can follow Planck on its mission to map the microwave emissions of the universe, and 'fly' through a virtual solar system, or fly inside Planck and explore the inside of the satellite.

For PC's or Laptops running Windows XP or higher, or Linux

See to download the simulation and manual.

Space Forensics

NASA's Space Forensics project takes students in formal and informal education settings through astronomy problem-solving narratives that parallel crime scene forensics. Each standards-aligned Space Forensics case fuses STEM and literacy, using mystery narratives and hands-on activities to take students through the process of scientific problem-solving. This approach tells the story of "doing science" and meets educators' needs for resources that encourage reading, writing, and speaking outside of the English Language Arts classroom.

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 Professional Development Program

The Space Telescope professional development program is designed to support the needs of formal and informal educators and enhance educators’ science content and pedagogical knowledge. Scientist and educator teams present STEM topics and the latest educational research, while emphasizing real-world connections. The purpose is to share information about the James Webb Space Telescope mission, support the teaching of standards-based science, and incorporate Hubble discoveries into educational settings.

Space Telescope Star Parties

During the summer months, the Space Telescope Science Institute hosts star parties for Baltimore-area families in partnership with local astronomy clubs.  Star parties feature science presentations along with an array of fun and interesting activities, such as WorldWide Telescope, hands-on activities related to light and color, visits to a portable planetarium, and night sky viewing opportunities provided via amateur telescopes and the Maryland Space Grant Observatory.

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.

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)

SOFIA mission public engagement & public outreach efforts, including maintaining the Science Center website and producing social media output, are jointly managed & implemented by SOFIA staff employed by USRA, the SETI Institute, and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.SOFIA is a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft that carries a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches (2.5 meters) at altitudes up to 45,000 feet (14 km), above the obscuring layer of water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere. The SOFIA program is a partnership of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). NASA's Ames Research Center manages the SOFIA science mission in cooperation with USRA and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI). The SOFIA aircraft is based at NASA Armstrong's research aircraft operations facility in Palmdale, California.

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. 

Visions of the Universe: Four Centuries of Discovery

This traveling exhibit was developed in collaboration with the American Library Association and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. It consists of six two-sided panels that include images and captions that highlight relevant, historical discoveries in astronomy. The exhibit is supported by a connected suite of standards-based educational resources. Also, each exhibit panel is available as a downloadable, poster-size file.

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.