Engaging teachers and communities with light pollution citizen science and astronomy experts
The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve STEM Network is a network of STEM engagement efforts throughout the state of Idaho. The program has forged a cornerstone partnership with the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve the only gold star-certified dark sky reserve in the US spanning an under-served rural region and thus an ideal venue for STEM engagement. The program combines several, mutually supporting strands: (1) ongoing community education efforts hosted at Boise State; (2) adapting NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) materials and infrastructure to Idaho’s Content Standards for Science curriculum; (3) citizen science light pollution monitoring to support the Reserve’s mission; and (4) an astronomer-in-residence program within the CIDSR.
Overlapping goals for our program elements allow them to mutually support one another and to support SciAct objectives. For example, the student training program and adaptation of educational materials for Idaho teachers enable STEM Education by helping bring NASA directly into the classroom and advance national education goals by providing authentic science experiences for learners, with a focus on under-resourced, rural populations. The light pollution monitoring and engagement, combined with the astronomer-in-residence program, engage locals in citizen science in work with research-active space scientists. Such efforts improve U.S. scientific literacy by directly involving residents of under-resourced areas in the scientific process and by leveraging efforts through the archetypal partnership of citizen science.