We bring Hubble science to the formal and informal education communities, and engage educators, students, and the public in the adventure of scientific discovery.
The Office of Public Outreach’s (OPO) Education branch develops products and programs for the formal and informal education communities. Using Hubble images and data, educators and scientists work in collaboration to develop curriculum support tools, exhibits, exhibit support materials, and professional development workshops that meet the needs of the formal and informal education communities. An awareness of trends and developments in education helps us meet our goals and adjust to the evolving needs of these communities. As a result, our approach is based on extensive groundwork performed by professional evaluators and educators to understand the needs of formal and informal educators, the range of existing materials, and our potential impact on the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) pipeline.
OPO’s education program reflects NASA’s Education Strategic Coordination Framework by providing a progression of educational opportunities for students, educators, and faculty, as well as the general public. Efforts will be made to draw from audiences that have already demonstrated interest in NASA and to connect participants to the next level of engagement. OPO also will continue working with education organizations and institutions to increase the impact of our E/PO program while emphasizing diversity and the needs of the underserved.
OPO’s Education branch utilizes discoveries and scientific data from the Hubble Space Telescope to bring the excitement of astronomy to the classroom. OPO’s education program enhances curricular goals by developing products aligned with national education standards and NASA’s STEM priorities. Formal education activities include developing online curriculum support tools available on the Amazing Space website, hard-copy curriculum support tools, professional development workshops for pre- and in-service educators, and provides student projects, and develops student projects for STEM.
OPO’s Education branch develops curriculum support tools that are used in various educational settings to enhance instruction and inspire students with the wonders of Hubble discoveries. We support the education and science communities through product dissemination, professional development workshops, papers, and partnership initiatives.
The informal science education component of OPO’s education program forges links with science centers, planetariums, natural history museums, nature centers, national parks, observatory visitor centers, libraries, and similar forums patronized by public audiences seeking to broaden their understanding of science and nature. Our efforts range from providing “raw materials” and exhibits to support institutionally based programs to providing “ready-to-install” products that can be set up on a temporary or permanent basis.
OPO develops and distributes exhibits and exhibit programming that can be provided on-loan to museums and other informal venues. Exhibits and related materials include multimedia programming and large format films, traveling exhibits, and kiosk programs.
OPO offers various services to bring the Hubble science and expertise available from STScI to the informal science education community. OPO recognizes the value of cross-linking our informal and formal products wherever applicable. OPO provides curriculum support tools to museums and planetariums for incorporation into exhibits or programs designed for visiting school groups.
Products in the Community
Informal Education Awards
Muse Award Winner
American Alliance of Museums
Media Award Winner
National Association for Interpretation
Evaluation is critical for the development and revision of our E/PO products and activities. As a result, OPO established a comprehensive evaluation plan over a decade ago in order to determine if Hubble E/PO products and programs are meeting mission goals. This evaluation plan applies a realistic approach to assessing both community needs and program impacts in appropriate and measurable ways.
NASA mission education efforts closely link scientists with education experts.
At STScI, scientists and educators work side-by-side to identify the aspects of cutting-edge Hubble discoveries, data, and technology most relevant to STEM education and public understanding of science. Together, they translate the science into resources and opportunities that respond to the needs of students, educators, and the public.
This strategy has allowed us to bring cutting-edge science directly to the education community on a national scale. It is the hallmark of successful mission-based Education & Public Outreach (E/PO) programming for NASA’s science missions such as Hubble.
- Education services are embedded within the mission, allowing for a productive, efficient, and cohesive partnership between scientists and education experts. Pedagogy is balanced with science accuracy, and equally importantly, it encourages top research scientists to engage directly in STEM activities.
- Mission scientists provide mission-based E/PO programs with access to the data and simulations needed to tell the story of scientific exploration.
- Direct access to science enlivens science education with real stories of exploration and discovery. These stories provide the context and framework for learning which are referenced in findings of education research on how people learn and develop.
Testimonials and Recommendations
“Thanks to the Space Telescope Science Institute… anybody can now feel the beauty of the galaxy from the comfort of Earth. It’s now possible to reach out and touch a galaxy.”
– The Huffington Post’s online news article entitled “Printable Tactile Astronomy: How to ‘See’ Outer Space if You’re Blind” (2011)
The Solar System Trading Cards website is an example of effective use of the design of trading cards in summarizing information related to each planet in the solar system.
– Publishers of the book “From Trading Cards to Comic Strips: Popular Culture Texts and Literacy Learning in Grades K–8” (2008)
Telescopes from the Ground Up “is particularly interesting to us because it appears to complement very well our own webpages on the history of telescopes, which are an integral part of our exhibit. We’ve looked at your website and congratulate you on an excellent job.”
– Dr. Spencer Weart, Director of the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics (2007)
Amazing Space’s “Telescopes from the Ground Up” is used by science educators for all 55,000 8th grade students to complete learning indicator.
– South Carolina Standards Support Curriculum System (S3) (2011)
Amazing Space promotes “the science and majestic beauty of the universe for use in the classroom.” It is a “classroom friendly, visually appealing, crafted to adhere to accepted educational standards. By sharing Hubble Space Telescope’s greatest discoveries, learners of all ages will enjoy learning about the universe and gain an even greater understanding of it in the future.”
– The National Science Foundation Astronomy & Space Classroom Resources (2011)
“Kudos on the ‘Telescopes’ website (‘Telescopes From the Ground Up’). It is very nicely done! I especially enjoy the ‘Snow’ page (of course) and think you have done a wonderful – if not the best – explanation I’ve ever seen of a somewhat obscure topic.”
– Larry Webster, chief solar observer at the Mt. Wilson Observatory
Connection to NASA's Science Mission Directorate Effort
NASA’s science content is unique among federal agencies. Space science sparks children’s interest more than any other scientific subject, with the possible exception of robots and dinosaurs. Resources and activities that feature NASA content engage and motivate students to learn science concepts in ways that other topic areas might not.*
Science Mission Directorate’s (SMD) E/PO projects share the results of its science missions and research with audiences through a portfolio of investments (E/PO projects) in Higher Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, Informal Education, and Outreach.
The STScI education program adheres to and benefits from the guiding principles of NASA SMD E/PO.
Education Forums: We leverage SMD’s E/PO infrastructure to have an impact beyond direct beneficiaries to reach large audiences and share best practices and lessons learned.
- Audience Needs: We work closely with our audiences in developing our products and programs. Our products are aligned with national education standards (AAAS Benchmarks, National Science Education Standards).
- Diversity: Our program emphasizes engaging underserved and
underrepresented groups in STEM through a variety of partner ships.
STScI has established a comprehensive strategic plan to engage more
minorities and women in STEM, reflecting the needs of our nation.
- Partnerships and Sustainability: We use a strategic approach to identify high-leverage partners to develop, disseminate, and evaluate our products and programs. This approach has enabled us to embed Hubble content systemically into the education community.
*Program Evaluation and Research Group. Office of Space Science: Education/Public Outreach Interim Evaluation Report. Cambridge, MA: Lesley University, 2002.