It is estimated that the ratio of students in U.S. schools to U.S. space scientists is 5,000 to 1. Scientists should be encouraged to help inspire students in individual classrooms whenever they can, but it is clear that the majority of students will not be reached in this way. Methods must be used to maximize the benefits from the limited NASA resources available for education and outreach. A NASA Headquarters Office of Space Sciences (OSS) education implementation plan ( http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/oss/edu/imp_plan.htm) recommended setting up an education "ecosystem." This ecosystem would take some of the limited amounts of money set aside for education and outreach to assist space science product and program developers in having the maximum effect on education and general communities.
Two elements of the ecosystem are broker/facilitators and education forums. The broker/facilitators use a variety of approaches to assure the maximum effect of space science education and outreach within a specific region of the United States. These approaches can include sponsoring workshops, fostering scientist and educator workshops, advertising educator resource centers, disseminating information at national educator conferences, etc. A NASA Research Announcement was issued to allow groups to submit proposals to be broker/facilitators. Five groups have been chosen to carry out this function.
A second element consists of four education forums aligned with the major science themes of OSS: Sun-Earth Connections (SEC), the Structure and Evolution of the Universe, Solar System Exploration, and the Search for Origins. The forums will be established at recognized centers of excellence for the themes. Their responsibilities are to work directly with the scientists in the theme area and assist the science community in bringing the new and exciting results as well as the fundamental underpinnings of that theme into the classroom and the living room. They act as broker/facilitators for the theme on a national level.
The Space Science Data Operations Office is playing a major role in the establishment of the Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum (SECEF) as a partnership between Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of California at Berkeley (UCB). The proposal for the SECEF submitted by GSFC/UCB may be found at http://www.cea.berkeley.edu/Education/SECEF or http://ssdoo.gsfc.nasa.gov/SECEF. As stated in the proposal, the goal of the SECEF is to tap SEC NASA science knowledge and mission discoveries to
It is expected that funding for the SECEF will start in mid-November 1997, and a kickoff meeting for the SECEF team will be held during the time of the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, California. Suggestions for activities that might benefit SEC education and outreach are gladly welcomed by the author, who has the role of forum manager at Goddard. The SECEF looks forward to working with the science community and the community in general to bring more of the excitement of SEC science into common knowledge.
James Thieman and Carolyn Ng promote the GSFC, UCB partnership at Goddard Education Day.
Erin D. Gardner, firstname.lastname@example.org, (301) 286-0163
Hughes STX, Code 633, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771, U.S.A.