More About NASA's Science Mission Directorate Education and Communications Program

“To share the story, the science, and the adventure of NASA's scientific explorations of our home planet, the solar system, and the universe beyond, through stimulating and informative activities and experiences created by experts, delivered effectively and efficiently to learners of many backgrounds via proven conduits, thus providing a direct return on the public's investment in NASA's scientific research.” -- SMD's vision for Education and Communications
Taking a closer look

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has a rich history of bringing NASA's science discoveries - from explorations of our home planet Earth to studies of distant stars and galaxies - to the public. The SMD Education and Communications Community engages and educates youths and adults nationwide in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics topics related to SMD content, expertise, and facilities.

In 2012, the SMD Education and Communications Community worked with over 34,000 K-12 educators and over 680,000 K-12 students – the majority of which were long-term interactions for two days or more.

SMD supports the nation’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education priorities effectively and efficiently. The Education and Communications program:

  • Improves STEM instruction by preparing new teachers and supporting existing teachers
  • Increases and sustains youth and public engagement in STEM
  • Enhances STEM experience of undergraduate students
  • Better serves groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields

Educator information

The NASA Science Mission Directorate's unique contribution to STEM education and the public understanding of science lies in partnering mission scientists, educators, and communication specialists to engage students, educators, and the public in accessing and discovering their home planet and the universe beyond for themselves.

Placing education and communications within NASA science missions and research programs provides an effective mechanism to bring the expertise and enthusiasm of scientists into the classroom. Combining the respective expertise of scientists and educators yields resources and opportunities that are scientifically accurate, grounded in current education research, reflect the needs of the education community, and more deeply reflect the processes of science and engineering. NASA Science Mission Directorate scientist-educator partnerships have been built over many years, and have resulted in diverse, broad and deep national education and communications impact.

Making Craters

The effectiveness of the NASA Science Mission Directorate's partnership-based approach is reflected in the collective and individual impact of its mission education and communications efforts.

Educator Conference

The SMD Education and Communications program is designed to minimize duplication and fragmentation and to maximize collaboration and return on investment. SMD Education and Communications activities are selected and evaluated based on their ability to leverage and extend partnerships and existing programs and resources. SMD E/PO Forums have been established to coordinate and support educational activities of the community of more than 700 educational professionals, increasing communication, collaboration, and continuity across programs, providing access to expertise, and multiplying programmatic impact by making efforts accessible to broader audiences.