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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
Calendar in the Sky: Professional Development for Informal Educators

Calendar in the Sky offers workshops and webinars for informal educators  and latino community leaders to learn about our website content, best practices in working with Latino audiences and partners, and resources they can use in their programming on these topics. We held workshops in the 6 metropolitan areas in the US with the largest latino populations: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Phoenix, and Houston. The workshops are also intended to broker releationships between local educators and latino community memebers. In addition, we hold a series of webinars on our content. We have created an online discussion space on our website for workshop participants to use.

Dawn Mission: i C Ceres

The Dawn Mission E/C is planning to commemorate the arrival of the spacecraft at dwarf planet Ceres with a festival called i C Ceres. We plan to hold a flagship event in collaboration with NASA JPL on the Caltech Campus with both family-oriented activities and special speakers for a variety of audiences May 9, 2015.  Events throughout that weekend will be encouraged all over the country and the world, utilizing materials, special online presentations and resources highlighted on the Dawn website. A map of events will inspire broad engagement with the mission.


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 Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) has trained nearly 1000 librarians and other community educators to bring Earth and space science and engineering to their youth programs through its Explore program. Over the course of its 15-year history, Explore has reached 35 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Explore was originally funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and has since grown to encompass NASA missions and ongoing science, as well as additional NSF projects. 

Five Stars Pathway - Afterschool Program at Girls Inc.

Led by Multiverse at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, Five Stars Pathway: Engaging Girls in Science through Multigenerational Mentors project is developing heliophysics curriculum targeting middle school girls to be implemented in Girls Inc. afterschool programs nationwide. 


Five Stars Pathway - Curriculum Resources for Afterschool

Led by Multiverse at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, Five Stars Pathway: Engaging Girls in Science through Multigenerational Mentors project is developing heliophysics curriculum targeting middle school girls to be implemented in Girls Inc. afterschool programs nationwide. 

Five Stars Pathway - Training for Afterschool Program Providers

Led by Multiverse at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, Five Stars Pathway: Engaging Girls in Science through Multigenerational Mentors project is developing heliophysics curriculum targeting middle school girls to be implemented in Girls Inc. afterschool programs nationwide. 

GEONS (Geomagnetic Event Observation Network by Students)

The THEMIS Education and Public Outreach team established ground-based magnetometer stations in the proximity of rural schools in traditionally under-served, underrepresented communities. Teachers at these schools were trained in how to use the magentometer data with their students. The network of these teachers, students, and magnetometers together with other students who participate using the web is called the Geomagnetic Event Observation Network by Students (GEONS).

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.

GRAIL: Earth & Space Science – Informal Education Opportunities

GRAIL MoonKAM is a student experience project for 5th-8th grade students nationwide. Middle school students attend Sally Ride Science festivals and learn about how to take picture of the moon using the GRAIL MoonKAM cameras. The objective of GRAIL MoonKAM is to engage students in STEM subjects.

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.

IBEX Space Explorers Afterschool Science Club

As part of a Chicago Public Schools systemic initiative, the IBEX Space Explorers After School Program (IBEX SEC) trains teachers to use the IBEX-funded GEMS SSS Curriculum with under-represented students.  The purpose of this program is to increase student exposure to space science that they do not receive during the school day and to increase their enjoyment in science activities.  This program provides professional development and classroom support for these science clubs through workshops and through staff site visits to classrooms.

IRIS National Undergrad Student Competition

This project is a yearly nationwide undergraduate student team competition to design and build spectrographs. It is targeted at under-represented students.

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.

MAVEN: Girls go to Mars! Kits

Girls go to Mars – a Girl Scouts project to develop engaging activities using MAVEN science and engineering content, culminating in a patch for girl scouts. Estimated dissemination is ~20 troops per state with ~10 girls per troop, or approximately 2,000 troop leaders and 10,000 Girl Scouts nationwide

MAVEN: Girls go to Mars! Professional Development

Girls go to Mars Training – a Girl Scouts project to develop engaging activities using MAVEN science and engineering content.  Trainings for Girl Scout troop leaders are included in the final years of the project. 

MAVEN: Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore! Lessons

MAVEN mission formal E/PO is a comprehensive program targeting K-12 teachers and students. The program involves product development and professional development workshops, including MAVEN Educator Ambassador Project, Space Science Teachers Summit, and Red Planet, and management and evaluation for the aforementioned activities. The objective of the MAVEN mission EPO program is to engage multiple audiences in the quest to understand Mars’ long-term atmospheric losses, giving insight into the history of Mars’ atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.

MAVEN: Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore! Professional Development

Red Planet: Read, Write, Explore! – a professional development project for elementary teachers across the United States and focused on Latino, Spanish-speaking communities. The professional development will incorporate science in elementary school literacy projects using the topic of Mars exploration.

MMS: NASA EDGE (Video Mission Updates/Career Interviews)

NASA EDGE is an unscripted, non-traditional video podcast or vodcast designed to highlight all things NASA in a unique and fun way. Built in the framework of sports talk radio (i.e. Mike and Mike in the Morning - ESPN Radio), NASA EDGE has generated a positive buzz for NASA in a way in which young teens and adults can relate. Produced vodcast segments will focus on a particular components of the MMS mission. For example, one segment might focus on the science instruments and another on the engineering design of the MMS satellite. In addition, the team will produced a series of 5min MMs career-based video clips that are promoted on the MMS YouTube channel, website and social media venues. In March 2015, NASA EDGE will produce a live webcast from the MMS launch site.

MMS: Space Math (Instructional Guide)

This guide uses examples from the MMS Mission to introduce mathematics in a real-world context to fifth through eighth graders. It is meant to help students learn about math utilizing the NASA MMS mission and be able to produce artifacts that can be shared with their peers and with their families. The main area of mathematics covered in this guide is geometry. The guide focuses on two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometry to assist students in developing spatial skills. There are also some activities that involve algebra and computational skills.


STEAM Camp - Dublin ISD piloted the MMS Challenge during the summer STEAM camp of 2012 and hosted a NASA national student summit in April of 2012 to help generate excitement about NASA’s MMS mission. Student experiences included hosting a digital art, physics, and robotics exhibition. Although Dublin ISD is a small and rural school, the impact of DISD STEAM camp led to an after school robotics program during the fall of 2012. The NASA MMS Challenge was piloted in Dublin ISD during the spring of 2012 and during Dublin ISD’s STEAM 2012 camp. The program was featured at ASCD 2012 fall conference, ISTE 2012, TCEA 2013, and was showcased at SITE 2013 and ISTE 2013. This program provides Dublin ISD and NASA the opportunity to extend on the previous experiences to focus on solar renewable energy and to pilot a fabrication unit to build academic vocabulary relating to renewable energies, solar weather, and magnetic space topics. The objective is to increase students’ interest in the MMS mission and science. The evaluation was the spinoff programs offered by the district as a strong indicator of student interest.

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.  

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.

NLSI: Elementary School Planetarium Program Explaining Lunar Science

Developed a Spanish version of "Max Goes to the Moon" A  children's planetarium program which will explain basic science about the moon. "Max Goes to the Moon" planetarium show for 1st-5th grade students completed.  Video of NASA Astronaut Alvin Drew reading "Max" from the International Space Station starts the program.  Extensive formative evaluation with scientists and elementary children led to about 30% of the program being revised and improved.  Test audiences now really like it, and it contains more science than most commercial planetarium shows.  Live premier with astronaut Drew in Boulder planned for spring 2012.  Showing at NASA Ames also being planned for spring 2012. Distribution begins after premier. Program will also be translated into Spanish, thanks to a grant supplement from NASA Ames.

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.

Rosetta Website Education Page

The Rosetta Project is working on an educational experience through the web page that brings students from different cultures and areas of the world together to learn about comets and asteroids as a group via the internet.  Rosetta is an international mission between ESA and NASA.

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.

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. 

Van Allen Probes: Pre-Service Teacher Workshop

The Van Allen Probes Pre-Service Teacher Workshops provide professional development opportunities for undergraduate and graduate pre-service teachers attending HBCUs.  The training engages students by providing a more in-depth experience that focuses on the Van Allen Probes mission.  The objective is to improve K-12 educator awareness and understanding of the Sun’s influence on Earth and near-Earth space through the study of Earth’s radiation belts.  Students interact with scientists and engineers, and are introduced to mission-related activities and resources.  The goal is for the pre-service teachers to learn how to incorporate activities and resources into their classroom lesson plans to motivate their students to pursue STEM studies and careers. 

The workshops target traditionally underserved populations with the intent of increasing diversity in space science.  Students participate in hands-on activities and classroom lessons, and then develop individual plans for implementing in their classroom.  NASA resources for teachers across curriculums are provided, as well as links to educator resources.

Van Allen Probes: Space Academy

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.