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Galileo Educator Network

Project Overview

The NASA Galileo Educator Network (GEN) is a NASA funded teacher professional development program managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Partner organizations include the New Jersey Astronomy Center (NJACE) at Raritan Valley College, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, Arizona, and the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA). Project ASTRO National Network sites in Boulder, Colorado, San Diego, California, West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Cincinnati, Ohio are also involved in piloting the program.

GEN grew out of the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP), a heritage program of the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. The GEN program creates professional development nationwide with the primary goals to:

  • Help teacher educators and teacher professional development providers engage and educate teachers of astronomy (and general science), especially in grades 3-9, using effective instructional strategies and educational resources, with engaging and inspiring content.
  • Promote the effective use of NASA-developed and NASA-supported resources by teacher educators and teacher professional development providers, through integration of astronomy/space science content with Galileo-inspired science inquiry and exploration.

GEN professional development has four basic and common elements adapted from GTTP:

  • Galileo-related activities, examining astronomy content and/or science inquiry. This involves activities recreating or exploring Galileo’s observations of Jupiter’s moons, Venus’ phases, the Sun’s spots, or the Moon’s craters. In this context learners (teachers or students) experience a hands-on, inquiry-based approach to scientific investigation, illustrating the process of science. GEN addresses the nature and practices of science directly, influenced by the NRC report, Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8 (2007).
  • NASA-developed and NASA-supported resources and science content. In GTTP, this workshop element was about using IYA-related resources, such as Galileoscopes. But for GEN, this becomes NASA resources and content. This includes NASA education and mission specific resources, as well as NASA supported resources contained in The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD-ROM. This compilation includes approximately 50 classroom activities developed with NASA support, plus several contributed background articles from NASA personnel.
  • Fundamental concepts to meet curriculum goals. In GTTP workshops, this element enabled flexibility with workshop design, and yet allowed a focus on core concepts and ideas that students (and their teachers) need to tackle. This same principle carries over into GEN professional development efforts. Examples of fundamental concepts include: scale (size, distance, and time); phases of the Moon, motions of the Sun and Earth, seasons, the nature of science, etc.
  • Resources adaptable for use in the classroom. GTTP workshops benefitted from flexibility, integrating various educational resources from NASA and elsewhere, with the overriding objective to feature useful resources for the classroom. GEN focuses on NASA-supported resources while enabling exploration of additional resources. These additional resources include those developed by GEN partners and leverage local assets to serve the needs of their teacher communities. One featured NASA-supported resource is the Windows to the Universe website, now administered by NESTA. Other resources important in GEN professional development includes unique local resources each site may have access to, such as planetarium programs, exhibits, staff astronomers, etc.

In 2012 and 2013, GEN partners will hold Professional Development Institutes (GEN PDI) for teacher educators and professional developers in a “train the trainer” model, giving them the tools to conduct their own GEN workshop for classroom teachers in their own communities. Participants in a GEN PDI are certified as Galileo Educator Fellows. Teachers who participate in a 15-hour GEN teacher’s workshop become Galileo Educators.

Teachers throughout the country are invited to become NASA Galileo Educators by participating in local and regional GEN workshops conducted by NASA Galileo Educator Fellows.

If you miss out on a local GEN workshop, you can participate in a national GTTP workshop. These workshops incorporate content and activities related to GEN, however are more general in nature.

For more information on GEN and to receive more information on participating in a GEN workshop or PDI, send an email to: gttp {at}