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SOFIA’s E/PO Program: Education Partnerships at 41,000 feet. Educators flying onboard to observe and participate in front-line scientific research has been the keystone of SOFIA E/PO plans since the original USRA proposal to NASA

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sofia s e po program education partnerships at 41 000 feet
SOFIA’s E/PO Program:Education Partnerships at 41,000 feet
  • Educators flying onboard to observe and participate in front-line scientific research has been the keystone of SOFIA E/PO plans since the original USRA proposal to NASA
  • Goal: to have teachers, science museum staff, etc. from every corner of every state (over 20 yr mission lifetime) who are better educators as well as promoters of NASA after having flown on SOFIA and worked with astronomers
  • SOFIA is the first major observatory designed from the start with significant facilities (console, seats) specifically to support E/PO
some oss e po terminology
Some OSS E/PO terminology:
  • FORMAL EDUCATORS: classroom teachers
  • INFORMAL EDUCATORS: science museum and planetarium staff, national park rangers, amateur astronomers doing community star parties
education public outreach
Education/Public Outreach

Key Accomplishments, FY03

  • Connecting with Formal Educators:

Continuing our nationwide program of talks

regarding SOFIA and IR astronomy at science

teacher conventions, we alert teachers to the

upcoming opportunity to fly on SOFIA and

collaborate with astronomers. We also

demonstrate EM radiation lesson kits for

middle and high school curricula developed in

collaboration with SIRTF E/PO and Montana

State University.

Locations: National Science Teachers

Association (NSTA) national meeting in

Philadelphia, plus regional meetings in

Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon and

California. Also, convention of National

Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical

Engineers (NOBCChE) in Indiana.

education public outreach4
Education/Public Outreach
  • Connecting with Formal Educators, continued
    • Educational poster (below, right) was produced by NASA Origins E/PO groups including SOFIA; we arranged for the poster to be bundled with issues of “Science Scope” and “Science Teacher” magazines (resp. for middle and high school teachers, total circulation 45,000), “The Physics Teacher” magazine (10,000 circulation in the U.S. and abroad), and “The Planetarian” magazine for planetarium directors. Edna DeVore of SOFIA E/PO was one of 2 authors of the article explaining the poster in the science teacher magazines.
    • Two articles were published in

“Astronomy Education Review”

( regarding

design and evaluation of our

national distance-learning course

“The Invisible Universe Online”

sponsored by SOFIA E/PO and

administered by Montana State U.

This is a model for a web-based

course to train teachers to fly on

SOFIA and collaborate with


education public outreach5
Education/Public Outreach
  • With subcontractor at U. Chicago / Yerkes Observatory we are developing a new program to teach blind and visually impaired people about astronomy:
    • “Active Astronomy” IR detection demo kits plus tactile versions of astronomical images and a SOFIA model were presented to teachers at a National Federation of the Blind convention in Louisville, KY
    • Pictured here below is the same program presented to students and teachers from the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired visiting Yerkes Observatory
  • Preliminary plans were made to

collaborate with SIRTF E/PO on

production of a book of astronomical

images at all wavelengths rendered

into Braille and textures.

education public outreach6
Education/Public Outreach
  • Connecting with Informal Educators (museums and planetarium staff, amateur astronomers):
    • SOFIA video material and 1/100 scale model aircraft were supplied to the Space Science Institute in Boulder, CO for incorporation in “Cosmic Origins”, an interactive science center exhibit that debuts in 2005. NASA Origins missions and NSF are funding the exhibit.
    • Presentations were made by SOFIA E/PO personnel at amateur astronomer conventions in Illinois and Wisconsin regarding SOFIA, IR astronomy, and especially, how amateur astronomers can help with NASA public outreach
education public outreach7
Education/Public Outreach
  • Public Outreach & Science Community Outreach
    • SOFIA E/PO personnel operated the SOFIA booth and IR camera demo at:
      • Moffett Field annual Air Show
      • Aero Expo for area middle school students
      • Space Day at San Jose Tech Museum
      • Seattle and Nashville AAS meetings, plus Monterey AAS/DPS
  • Media Relations
    • Worked with L-3 and Ames PAO on media coverage and press releases surrounding arrival of the Telescope Assembly in Waco. Obtained coverage during fall ‘02 on over 20 TV news broadcasts, several daily newspapers in Texas, several web sites, articles in national magazines Aviation Week and Sky and Telescope, plus NASA-Ames’ Astrogram.
education public outreach8
Education/Public Outreach
  • Management, Oversight, Coordination
    • SOFIA E/PO Working Group (SEPOWG) external advisory board had annual meeting June 24-25 in Waco. Recommendations:
      • High priority for SOFIA E/PO to hire Public Information Officer soon, need to lay groundwork for major project news events in the next 18 months (requires E/PO FY04 budget greater than FY03)
      • Explore ways to work with NASA Code N, e.g. connect with their Educator Astronaut program for pool of teachers already highly motivated to work with NASA
      • Improve communication between SEPOWG and SOFIA E/PO during intervals between annual meetings
education public outreach9
Education/Public Outreach
  • Management, Oversight, Coordination, continued
    • SOFIA E/PO personnel attended combined retreat of NASA OSS Origins and Solar System Exploration (SSE) Forums’ E/PO personnel Sept 16-18 to coordinate mission E/PO programs. Results:
      • SOFIA E/PO will team with NASA Astrobiology Institute E/PO (based at Ames) to design formative evaluations regarding what classroom teachers want from programs of research collaboration with scientists
      • Origins and SSE missions, SOFIA included, will contribute materials (video and still) to a modular OSS traveling exhibit w/ updateable “jukebox” requested by science museums and planetariums
      • Origins and SSE missions, SOFIA included, will contribute materials and encourage scientific staff interviews for a PBS NOVA program series on space science to be aired in fall ‘04 which will have a parallel simultaneous exhibit program established at 10 science museums nationwide [lead institutions: WGBH-TV, Boston, and Pacific Science Center, Seattle]
      • Origins and SSE missions, SOFIA included, will contribute materials for the GEMS Space Science Core Curriculum (middle and high school) modules being prepared at Lawrence Hall of Science