May/June 1999 Table of Contents
Connection Education Forum
Creates a New Education Ecosystem
there you are, contemplating next week's lesson plan on magnetism,
and trying to find some way to make it align with the new science
education standards. Students are fascinated about space, and you
want to design a lesson that covers more than just a rehash of the
idea that the Earth's magnetic field looks like a bar magnet. Besides,
your school never re-stocked that bottle of iron filings that ended
up on the floor last year! You may, somewhere, have heard that a
particular NASA mission had a great resource that discusses magnetic
storms and power-line blackouts, but you can't recall which of over
fifty missions have this information. So, what do you do?
science topics come-alive in the classroom can be a challenge, especially
at a time when emphasis is on hands-on learning and personally relevant
the past, teachers were faced with a confusing number of options,
even assuming they knew that a particular resource existed somewhere
in the vast NASA education system. You might, for example, travel
to a local or national teachers' convention and shop the booths,
hoping to collect something that might work. You might even have
attempted to pick up the phone and call NASA headquarters, or visit
its website. Most teachers, however, opt to do none of the above
because they are expensive, frustrating, or time consuming. If they
try to search the Internet for relevant lesson plans or primers,
they will usually not recover something that they can easily use,
but will have invested precious time in scouring through the over
1900 websites that AltaVista presents you for a search using the
key words "magnetic pole."
wants to make this whole process as painless as possible for the
teacher, and so, in 1997, the Office of Space Science (OSS) created
five regional education Broker/Facilitators who connect the educational
community to education products identified and cataloged by four
separate OSS Education Forums. Each Forum has the responsibility
for identifying all the education and public information products
created over the years by the NASA science missions in each OSS
research theme. Themes include: 1) The Sun-Earth Connection; 2)
Solar System Exploration, 3) The Astronomical Search for Origins
and Planetary Systems; and 4) The Structure and Evolution of the
Universe. The products can include, for example, CD-ROMs, classroom
activity guides, lithographs, bookmarks, and posters. Eventually,
by the year 2001, there will exist a single resource directory of
the products available under specific topic areas.
Forums will provide this directory to each of five regional Broker/Facilitators
who will enable teachers, school districts, the general public,
and other clients, to find the specific NASA resource they need.
Teachers and the general public will eventually be able to peruse
the resource directory on the Internet. They can also contact their
regional Broker/Facilitator and explain what they are looking for
to someone who is trained to use the NASA resource directory efficiently.
Although the entire OSS Ecosystem is still under development, many
Forums and Broker/Facilitators already have websites you can visit.
Many of these are beginning to provide ready-to-go information prior
to the publication of the official resource directory in 2001.
as an example the The Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum (SECEF),
a partnership between the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the
University of California, Berkeley. All NASA missions that study
the Sun, or the space environment of the Earth, are included in
this Forum. The "Special Announcements" page gives you
up-to-date scientific news about the latest solar storms, geophysical
disturbances, and advances in solar-terrestrial space science. Each
month, under the "Featured Resource" link, SECEF presents
an education resource, with specific commentary about whether lesson
plans are included, and other descriptions of its content. In addition,
SECEF provides a primer on why solar and terrestrial space science
is so important to study. The primer explains many of the ways that
solar storms and adverse "space weather" have affected
satellites, short-wave broadcasts, and telephone communication in
the past, and how they may in the future.
let's suppose you are a 7th grade teacher looking for a classroom
activity on the Earth's magnetic pole. You normally contact your
regional Broker/Facilitator, by visiting the NASA OSS home page.
You then call or email the indicated contact person and explain
what you are looking for. They may point to, for example, the NASA
IMAGE satellite program's workbook "Solar Storms and You!"
which includes among its nineteen activities, one called "Motion
of the Magnetic Pole." They may provide you with the name of
the person at IMAGE to contact or give you the URL where the activity
can actually be downloaded. You may even visit the Forum website
and find this information yourself with just a few clicks of your
many NASA missions of the recent past have, on their own, created
dozens of educational products, there are virtually hundreds of
items for teachers to view as potential cornerstones for their next
classroom activity. With the new OSS resource directories, we think
that many new teaching opportunities will be stimulated. Future
NASA missions will also see what products have been undertaken in
the past, and be able to use these as guides for designing new generations
of even more effective resources.
Office of Space Science Education Forums
Origins Education Forum
located at the Space Telescope Science Institute and currently provides
tutorials that describe how NASA plans to search for life elsewhere
in the Universe
Structure and Evolution of the Universe Forum
located at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and has
a comprehensive set of primers on Cosmology and Big-Bang Theory
Exploration of the Solar System Forum
located at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and has connections to
NASA Spacelink resources on planetary exploration and links to other
NASA education resources
Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum
a partnership between the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the
University of California, Berkeley, that has information and resources
on all NASA missions that study the Sun or the space environment
of the Earth
is an astrophysicist and Chief Scientist with Raytheon STX Corporation
at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
He is also the author of the recent book The Astronomy Cafe, and
he continues to answer a number of questions each day at the Astronomy
Cafe website located at http://astronomycafe.net.
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.