Program Highlights: 2018
Discover Exoplanet Workshop
Participants from the 18 venues nationwide that will host Discover Exoplanets exhibitions over the next three years gathered to explore the exhibition and related resources. These sites represent a range of geographical diversity, focusing on underserved audiences. NASA’s Universe of Learning and the Space Science Institute partnered to create Discover Exoplanets, which aims to improve scientific literary about what an exoplanet is, how NASA studies exoplanets, and the fundamental question of “Are we alone?”
During the training, participants received hands-on experience with the exhibition and supplementary activities designed to support events and programming during their exhibition, including training on other NASA’s Universe of Learning resources. Participants also connected with a NASA exoplanet subject matter expert, who shared science context and background.
NASA’s Rising Stars Summer Camp Workshop
NASA’s Universe of Learning partnered with the Timothy Smith Network of community technology centers to present a week-long workshop for learners interested in learning about the life-cycle of stars. Over the course of five days, participants controlled the MicroObservatory robotic telescopes to take images of stars and nebulas, processed and colorized their data using the JS9 image analysis software, viewed Universe Unplugged videos about the birth and death of stars, and applied what they learned to work with FITS data of the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant.
Science Olympiad Summer Institute Division C Astronomy Event
The Science Olympiad Summer Institute (SOSI) High School Division C Astronomy presentation was attended by 57 coaches from around the country. The presentations made extensive use of webinars, materials, and resources developed specifically for Science Olympiad teams by NASA’s Universe of Learning.
Science Olympiad Summer Institute Coaches Clinic
A presentation and workshop focused on the National Science Olympiad Solar System Event to show 103 Science Olympiad coaches, state directors, and event supervisors how to help teams prepare for the NSO 2018 regional, invitational, state, and national competitions in this event. These efforts lay the foundation of astrophysics-based events, such as the High School Division C Astronomy presentation. The presentation used the materials and webinars developed for NASA’s Universe of Learning. The materials will be used by the more than 7500 teams nationwide to prepare for the 2018 NSO space science competitions.
Akamai/Girls Who Code
NASA’s Universe of Learning conducted a workshop of coding, 3D modeling, and VR with Girls Who Code’s Summer Intensive programs at Akamai Boston. Learners were introduced to binary coding, the “Recoloring the Universe” a hands-on activity using Pencilcode and NASA data, and participated in demonstrations on data-driven 3D prints and VR applications. The activities were followed by in-depth career and astronomy/technology question and answer session.
Rosie’s Career Day
NASA’s Universe of Learning participated in Rosie’s Career Day, an event held at Rosie’s Girls summer day camp in Richmond, California. The camp, co-sponsored by the Rosie the Riveter Trust and the YMCA of the East Bay, provides middle school girls, mostly from low-income families, opportunities to explore non-traditional trades and careers. NASA’s Universe of Learning team members from Sonoma State University presented coding activities, guiding them in learning how to code using Turtle Logo. Subject matter experts from Sonoma State University engaged the girls in a talk about spectroscopy and space.
NASA’s Universe of Learning exhibits at the San Diego Public Libraries
The San Diego Public Library system hosted the Here, There, Everywhere and AstrOlympics exhibits at North County and Central San Diego libraries, and the STOP for Science poster exhibits at 20 branches from March through May 2018 with many hundreds of patrons participating across the district. The exhibits and poster displays accompanied a suite of STEM-related activities including hands-on computer programming kits, "dress like a scientist" events, and paper-based activities and handouts for children and their families.
Pre-service Teacher Workshop at the University of Texas at San Antonio
NASA’s Universe of Learning partnered with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to offer a two-week long workshop for pre-service teachers. Educators from the McDonald Observatory, Scobee Education Center, and the Witte Museum collaborated in order to create a comprehensive needs-based learning experience for the pre-service educators. Workshop participants investigated astrophysics topics as well as teaching pedagogy.
Black Girls Code
NASA’s Universe of Learning organized a full day workshop with Black Girls Code in Brooklyn, NY. Participants learned how astronomers use computers to create 2D and 3D images of objects and regions of the universe with hands-on activities around binary code, coding NASA data on the Pencil Code platform, 3D modeling/printing, and Virtual Reality. Working with NASA Astrophysics data, participants experienced real-world applications of science, technology, and art, ending the day delivering presentations on their accomplishments to their families.
Supporting Awareness of Underserved/Underrepresented Communities in NASA Science
In February (Black History Month) and March (Women’s History Month), as part of the Science Briefing project, NASA’s Universe of Learning collaborated with the NASA Museum Alliance to host telecons sharing contributions to NASA science from underserved/underrepresented communities.
February’s briefing highlighted the career of Dr. George Carruthers (the 2017 winner of the Arthur B.C. Walker Award, given by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific). Dr. Kent Wood spoke about Carruthers’ career at NRL and Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi spoke about Carruthers’ mentoring and influence on his career.
March’s briefing featured women involved in current and upcoming NASA exoplanet detection missions. Speakers included Dr. Jessie Christiansen from CalTech/IPAC, Dr. Elisa Quintana NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Maura Fuijeh from NASA Ames Research Center.
ViewSpace: Unveiling the Invisible Universe
During the American Astronomical Society meeting in January, the NASA’s Universe of Learning team unveiled ways for audiences to interact with ViewSpace astronomy content beyond its award-winning videos. A new interactive feature of ViewSpace, titled “Unveiling the Invisible Universe,” provides audiences with the opportunity to explore space through multiple wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.
As ViewSpace videos play nearby, visitors to informal learning sites can access a complementary system on which they manipulate interactive sliders to compare views of celestial objects as observed in different wavelengths. Visitors compare information from portions of the electromagnetic spectrum that are invisible to our eyes with the visible images the public has been amazed with over the past decades to improve their understanding of viewing objects in a different light. The new interactive sliders used in combination with existing ViewSpace video content create a multi-modal, free choice learning experience that meets best practices in informal education.
Engaging the SciAct Collective at AAS
The NASA SciAct Collective aims to foster collaboration between SciAct awardees in order to more effectively connect learner with subject matter experts and engage learners with NASA science content. To further this goal, the NASA's Universe of Learning team organized a special session for astronomers at the 2018 Winter AAS meeting entitled "Learning with NASA Astrophysics: How to get connected."
NASA’s UoL partnered with other SciAct Collective programs that provide NASA Astrophysics content (SETI-Girls Scouts, SETI-Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors, Goddard Astrophysics) to share engagement opportunities for the AAS community. This successful session included a review of our evaluation efforts in surveying the needs of subject matter experts to engage, as well as an overview of specific projects. Session attendees benefitted from a panel discussion and a networking session to provide opportunities for more significant and meaningful conversations about engagement.
Universe Unplugged: Think Tank: When Stars Go Boom
NASA’s Universe of Learning produced the second video in the Universe Unplugged series: “Think Tank: When Stars Go Boom.” This video features Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Jerrika Hinton (Grey’s Anatomy) sharing how stars and their deaths affect planet formation and life. The talents of celebrities, subject matter experts, science visualization specialists, educators, and outreach professionals are leveraged together to create an accessible and engaging experience that allows viewers to make personal connections with astrophysics discoveries while increasing their basic knowledge of astrophysics.