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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 STEM Instruction

Youth and Public Engagement
Undergraduate Student Experiences
Working with Diverse Audiences
Astromaterials Education/Solar System Science Professional Development

Astromaterials Education/Solar System Science Professional Development
These workshops and trainings for elementary and secondary educators are 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 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, multimedia, and hands-on activities. 

Astromaterials: Lunar/Meteorite Sample Education Disk Certification Training

Lunar/Meteorite Sample Education Disk Certification Training
These workshops and trainings for elementary and secondary educators are developed thematically around the topics of solar system science. Participants are certified to borrow the sample education disks and prepared to share the science appropriately with K-12 audiences. These are usually offered within a conference or larger professional development event. Standard content of solar system science is shared thematically preparing the educators to use the sample education disks effectively as they meet their curricular needs. The content is delivered through speakers, multimedia, and hands-on activities. 

Dawn: Small Bodies Thematic Teacher Workshops

For FY 2011: Includes 1) Day-long teacher workshop in Denver CO.  2) Day long workshop for Florida Science Supervisors.  3) Five simultaneous workshops in February 2011 based on results of EPOXI and in anticipation of Stardust NExT and Dawn.  For FY 2012, the Dawn mission will provide educator workshops about some of the findings at Vesta and a review of Stardust NExT and EPOXI educational materials. Venues to include the Colorado Science Conference and the School Science and Mathematics National Conference. The purpose of the workshops is to educate teachers on the content of comets, asteroids, the EPOXI and Stardust-NExT and Dawn mission encounters and the educational resources appropriate for classroom use. The project brings together formal and informal educators  to connect with scientists, engineers, and thematic NASA resources and exhibits and offers the additional benefit of networking.

Discovery and New Frontiers: "Unlocking Mysteries of the Solar System" DVD and Educator Guide

"Unlocking Mysteries of the Solar System" is a video overview of the Discovery Program and missions with an accompanying educator guide.  The video describes the science objectives and results of the missions, and the educator guide leads students through a series of activities to learn about the mission and then design their own space mission.  Portions of the video are shown at workshops and the activity is demonstrated to teachers who work in groups to design a mission. 

Discovery and New Frontiers: "Vision of Discovery" Educator Workshop

"Vision of Discovery" Professional Development is a 5 hour workshop for teachers held in four locations simultaneously.  Using a thematic design, this workshop connects the Discovery and New Frontiers missions’ science and technology with the curriculum needs of classroom teachers. The workshop offers prominent mission scientists giving presentations and hands-on experience with classroom activities. The speaker presentations can be viewed via the Internet in real-time and in the archive.

Discovery and New Frontiers: Thematic Educator Workshops

DNF thematic educator workshops are a series of workshops in a variety of venues for teachers in grades 4-12.  The workshops bring standards-aligned, engaging, hands-on activities based on mission science goals and results to educators. DNF program and project scientists and education specialists train teachers at local, regional, and national conferences and events.

Discovery and New Frontiers: Unlocking the Mysteries Educator Workshops

Unlocking the Mysteries Professional Development is a 3 hour workshop for in-service and pre-service teachers.  Using a thematic design, this workshop connects the Discovery and New Frontiers missions’ science and technology with the curriculum needs of the classroom teachers. The workshop offers mission content and hands-on experience with classroom activities.

Discovery New Frontiers Thematic Educator Workshops

1) In Nov. 2011 (FY 2012), McREL supported a NASA educator workshop in Rainsville, AL. 2) McREL coordinated and facilitated Vision of Discovery (FY 2012), a Discovery Program/New Frontiers Year of the Solar System (YSS)  event. The 4-6 hour workshop was held in four locations across the country: JPL, APL, JSC, and Oregon. It involved collaboration with the E/PO staff of many D/NF Program missions (Dawn, MESSENGER, New Horizons), the Discovery and New Frontiers Programs, the NASA Digital Learning Network, and NASA AESP providers. The event was held on  Saturday  March 10, 2012. A third annual workshop is being planned for March 2013.

InSight Mission Formal Education

InSight's formal-education program features comparative planetology initiatives with our E/PO partners IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology), SCEC (Southern California Earthquake Center) and NASA's SpaceMath for standards based math resources. This year begins development of Preassessment, Standards-focused curriculum, near-real-time data classroom delivery methods, earthquake analysis tools and professional development.

LADEE: Educator Workshops

While LADEE supports a number of workshops hosted (and reported in the data call) by other missions/programs (see notes), these represent workshops not reported elsewhere. Educators attending these workshops are introduced to how our understanding of the Moon is changing dramatically based on results from a new generation of robotic explorers, how LADEE will further advance our understanding of the Moon, and how they and there students can directly participate in NASA lunar science and exploration through programs such as Moon Zoo the LADEE Observation Campaign. In conducting these discussions, LADEE EPO supports workshops conducted by a number of partners including Lunar Quest, AESP, Cornell University, and the National Science Teachers Association.

Lunar and Meteorite Sample Disk Program - loan system

The lunar and meteorite disk loan program provides samples embedded in acrylic for use by trained educators in classroom and event settings.

Mars Exploration Program: ChemCam E/PO: Sharing Mars Science and Exploration

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), in close collaboration with the ChemCam science team, including colleagues at the Centre d’Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements in France, is: 1) implementing a week-long educator workshop; 2) implementing a two-day informal educator workshop targeting children's librarians; and 3) maintaining a new media portal. Through these activities, formal and informal educators and the general public will interact with Mars content that will inform them about Mars science, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) / Curiosity Rover, and ChemCam science, and engage them in current and future plans for Mars exploration. The programs are advertised through the SMD E/PO community and in collaboration with formal and informal science education institutions and organizations; all materials are available on the website.

Mars Exploration Program: Mars Formal Educator PD

This project provides educators around the country with professional development opportunities. Since research shows that an initial face-to-face training, followed up by a few distance learning opportunities, is more effective than single, stand-alone workshops, Mars Public Engagement has begun to take that approach, partnering with NSTA for educator professional development.  Face-to-face regional workshops continue to occur around the country, with recruitment for distance learning opportunities. 

Mars Exploration Program: Mars through Arts, Letters & Humanities

Connected closely to both human and robotic exploration, Mars Science through the Arts, Letters, and Humanities is one of three content "threads" for formal education listed in the Mars Exploration Program Public Engagement Plan. This thread is meant to represent the earliest entry point into the pipeline, focused on elementary level, interdisciplinary activities that introduce Mars science and engineering.   This thread is also appropriate for pre-service teachers and students without strong STEM backgrounds.  Key activities include Imagine Mars, which brings  science, arts, and technology standards together as students consider what a future community on Mars would be like.

Mars Exploration Program: MSL Curiosity: Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Educator Professional Development Workshops

Sample Analysis at Mars(SAM) Educator Professional Development Workshops: The SAM E/PO team hosts workshops for middle and high school educators who visit GSFC.  The workshops include an overview of the MSL mission and science goals, an overview of SAM, a presentation by a SAM scientist, and an introduction to Mars and MSL educational activities and resources.

NAI: Telling Your Story (MIT)

The Telling Your Story program aims to form collaborations between research scientists and K-12 teachers that will result in ongoing classroom visits by scientists, and lab visits by teachers and their students. The program brings together scientists and K-12 educators in a workshop that lets each group learn about, and from, the other. Scientists are taught effective communication skills appropriate for K-12 audiences, and work with teachers to develop ideas and formats for classroom visits.

NAI: Astrobiology in the Masters of Science in Science Education Program (MSU)

This program supports in-service teachers in their work towards a Masters of Science degree in Science Education at Montana State University.  Two courses were supported in the program this year, Life in Extreme Environments and Thermal Biology in Yellowstone National Park. The courses provide science content information and authentic research experiences for practicing science instructors at the middle, secondary, and college levels.

NAI: Astrobiology Laboratory Institute for Instructors (UH)

This project provides professional development in astrobiology for teachers in Hawai'i and from the mainland US.  Its purpose is to increase awareness of astrobiology science and use of astrobiology classroom materials.  Teachers participate in a week-long workshop including lecture, lab, and field studies.

NAI: Astrobiology Teachers Academy (RPI)

This is a week-long, in-depth, summer learning experience for high school science teachers in New York State.  Its purpose is to increase content knowledge for teachers and support them to develop unique lesson plans in astrobiology for their classroom.  This is a multi-year interaction which incorporates teacher mentors from prior years into each summer's workshop, and provides sustained contact for teachers with the scientist faculty and each other throughout the academic year.

NAI: Astrobiology Workshops for Educators at Penn State (PSU)

This project provides professional development in astrobiology for teachers from across the US at Penn State University.  Two workshops were supported in Summer, 2011: Earth's History: Uncovering Clues of the Past‚ and Astrobiology: The Interdisciplinary Search for Life in the Cosmos.  The purpose is to expose teachers to the latest in astrobiology research, NASA missions, and classroom materials.

NAI: Crow Education Project (Icy)

The Crow Education Project provides science enrichment activities for 10 4th grade classrooms and professional development for their teachers in three schools located on and adjacent to the Crow Reservation in Southwestern Montana.  It's purpose is to engage 4th graders on Native American reservations to astrobiology science and expose them to science as a career.  A district wide program, this hybrid education model incorporates monthly hands-on science activities, field experiences, and video conferencing technology to share science discoveries from scientists and educators at Montana State University with Hardin Intermediate School and Crow Agency School students.

NAI: Hawai'i Student Teacher Astronomy Research Program (UH)

This program provides hands-on research experiences for students and their teachers in Hawai'i.  Its purpose is to develop astronomy research skills in students in grades 7-11 so they can conduct Science Fair quality projects and pursue STEM majors in college.  After a week-long workshop in the summer, scientist mentors travel to student locations throughout the school year to provide help with the research, and students are supported to participate in science fairs.

NAI: Intro to Astrobiology Short Course via NTEN (MSU)

This is an online short course for elementary teachers with modules addressing astrobiology subject material including the challenges of defining life, sorting life, and discovering life.  It allows participants to contemplate and investigate the potential for finding life beyond Earth. The course is self-paced with interactive components as well as links to NASA resources. 

New Horizons: "Educator Cadre" Teacher Training Team

The Educator Cadre program – working in partnership with the NASA Solar System Educator Program (SSEP) – develops middle and high school teachers who represent New Horizons and serve as an important resource for solar system exploration programs across the country. Through New Horizons Teacher Training Workshops, we developed a cadre of skilled master teachers who now represent the mission; these workshops comply with National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) benchmarks and standards. Workshop activities are structured according to principles of professional development, in full alignment with national standards. Thus, both pedagogical and scientific content are addressed, and effective instructional strategies are modeled. This formal education effort also includes a curriculum and lesson plan component.

NLSI - Workshops for K-12 teachers I

3 separate workshops, for teachers of grades 1-5, 6-8, and high school. Teachers received and practiced age-appropriate astronomy activities with a focus on lunar science. They built inexpensive "galileoscope" telescopes. Cooperation with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, which was meeting in Boulder, CO in 2010, increased teacher attendance. Nearly all teachers who applied were accepted. Scholarships were supported by NASA and ASP. Teacher assessment forms quite positive.

NLSI - Workshops for K-12 teachers II

Working with Erin Wood (LASP) we hosted a teacher workshop for Elem & Middle School teachers.  This workshop was in association with the ASP.  The theme was the Scientific Method and we focused on the Moon to convey many aspects of the scientific method.  20 teachers registered.  Main activities:-  Pre-evaluation with clickers, moon phases (predicting, then "kinesthetic astronomy to explain), remote sensing (shoebox activity), talk by LUNAR PI Jack Burns, post evaluation

NLSI: Dynamic Response of the Environment at the Moon (DREAM) Lunar Extreme Program

DREAM's Lunar Extreme Program: The Lunar Extreme Program works with high school teachers and students via Webinar over the course of a semester to prepare them for participation in a week-long Lunar Extreme Workshop in June.  The Workshop will bring together high school teachers and students with members of the DREAM team to investigate extreme events, such as a lunar impact, and their effects on lunar dust, plasma, and the exosphere. 

NLSI: Journey to the Universe

Journey through the Universe is a national science education initiative that engages entire communities - students, teachers, families, and the public - using education programs in the Earth and space sciences and space exploration to inspire and educate. The initiative engages communities in sustained science, math, and technology education, and is a celebration of exploration and the joys of learning.  The initiative includes local programming for thousands of students and families, grade K-12 lessons and curriculum support materials, grade K-12 educator training, and ongoing support from scientists and educators nationally in both science content and pedagogy for the classroom. The communities integrate these resources into their existing science, mathematics, and technology education programming in both formal and informal science education venues. The result of this partnership is programming that reflects the strengths and capabilities of the community, and provides access to resources that would otherwise be unavailable. Programming provided to each community includes a weeklong celebration of learning "Journey through the Universe Week" conducted by a National Team of researchers and engineers reflecting organizations from across the NASA communities. During that week, three major threads are provided:1- Family Science Events: A family science night will be held at the `Imiloa Astronomy Center, including planetarium shows, four guest lecturers, and free access to the exhibit area. 2-Classroom Visits: A National Team of researchers and engineers working on the frontier conduct Classroom Visits for 8,000 K-12 students. The researchers are gifted at communicating their passion for research and science to audience of all ages, providing students a personal interaction with explorers working on the space frontier, and providing a window on the lives of researchers and the process of science. 3- Educator Workshops: Training is provided for K-12 educators on Education Modules that are mapped to the National Science Education Standards. Each Module includes an Educational Unit at three (K-4, 5-8, 9-12) or four (K-2, 3-4, 5-8, 9-12) grade levels, and includes content overviews; inquiry-based, hands-on activities; assessment rubrics; and resource listings.

NLSI/Montana State: Geology of the Moon On-Line Course

The course, Geology of the Moon (ERTH 580-50), offers MSU graduate credits in earth science for middle school teachers. The online course runs Sept. 28 through Nov. 29 and is taught by Cass Runyan, who teaches at both MSU and the College of Charleston, and Noah Petro, a lunar geologist from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Pamela Whiffen, a high school science teacher, will also be part of the instructional team, helping participating teachers better incorporate the science concepts into their classrooms. The class is part of MSU's National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN), which offers online science courses for teachers.

Our Solar System Through the Eyes of Scientists K-6 science and language arts curriculum

Our Solar System - Through the Eyes of Scientists (TES) is a solar system thematic science and language arts based curriculum for students and teachers in grades 1-6.  Students read biographies of current NASA scientists and view scientists’ notebook pages, while learning about planetary features such as canyons, volcanoes, and ice.  Curriculum is distributed on CD-ROM and made available on the Solar System Exploration website.  Teacher professional development is included.  Major costs have been to get a science writer and three educators (80%) to rewrite most of lessons to keep internal voice of lessons coherent and consistent, plus 10%K for audio visual time to create videos of scientists to accompany lessons plus travel for three scientists and three E/PO personnel (10%) to a teacher workshop to beta test the product.  

Solar System Ambassador Master Teachers

Solar System Master Teachers (SSAMT) are master teacher volunteers who train educators in their states in the use of NASA's STEM educational materials.  Training for SSAMTs on NASA/JPL educational products is accomplished by webinars with downloadable web-based materials.  SSAMTs were formerly known as Solar System Educators before becoming a Solar System Ambassador specialty subgroup.

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.

Stardust-NExT Teacher Resources

1) In Crater Capture students model the problem NASA engineers encounter as they mathematically predict the position of the comet in its trajectory and the location of the crater in the rotation of a comet nucleus, and then photograph or video the crater as the comet nucleus rolls by the observer. 2) In Comparing Cosmic Cameras, students compare cameras from different spacecraft capturing the cool images illuminating comet science. 3) In Comet Mysteries, stories of comets in history are highlighted.