The NASA Space Science Education Consortium (NSSEC) capitalizes on NASA’s rich history of sharing research and technology through compelling and innovative education projects. The NSSEC (formerly the Heliophysics Education Consortium (HEC)) continues the Science Mission Directorate’s (SMD) work at the forefront of NASA’s educational endeavors by linking exciting science and missions directly to the American public. The NSSEC team has learned from the strengths and weaknesses of previous programs and has a clear, adaptable plan forward.
The NSSEC brings an exciting menu of products, programs, and tools to space science education. This includes large-scale events (e.g. Eclipse 2017, Sun-Earth Days, International Observe the Moon Night), data-intensive tools (Space Weather Action Center, Helioviewer), informal programs (Solarium, planetarium shows), citizen science (Aurorasaurus, Radio JOVE), out-of-school time (Family Science Night), and crosscutting infrastructure (Space Math, STEM Innovation Lab, Oculus Rift Virtual Reality, 3D printing). This is all made accessible, searchable, and easily usable through an online portal tailored to our audiences.
Central to our program is the concept of One Accessible Universe or 1 AU. Through 1 AU, we will emphasize the necessity of making NASA space science education accessible to the country, reaching diverse populations through focused communications and facilitating access and usability for people with physical disabilities.
The NSSEC core team is unequaled in space science education. The award-winning Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) space science education team has been highly successful at creating programs that cross disciplines and missions, including Sun-Earth Days, Space Weather Action Center, Small Worlds Week, the Transit of Venus, and most recently, the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse and through many years working together have molded an excellent, cohesive team. This experienced team is comprised of active scientists, educators, and technologists, all of whom have a deep passion for education and public engagement. GSFC is the right place to lead space science education program coordination. GSFC is the premier space and Earth science research center in the world and has connections to nearly all of NASA’s space science missions. The Center has excellent research programs in Astrophysics, Heliophysics, Earth Science, Planetary Science, and Astrobiology making GSFC an ideal place for projects and products that span the entire SMD portfolio.
The NSSEC has an extensive, engaged, and committed set of partnerships that bring unique, world class resources to SMD and communicate our messages to targeted populations. The NSSEC provides collaborative partnerships within SMD and with external organizations including: technology companies (Google), professional societies (e.g., International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], American Association of Physics Teachers [AAPT]), community groups (e.g., Astronomical League [AL]), universities (e.g., University of North Texas [UNT]), school systems (through the NASA Office of Education), informal education venues (e.g., Museum of Science Fiction [MoSF], Maryland Science Center [MSC]), and minority serving institutions (e.g., Indigenous Education Institute and the University of Alaska / Fairbanks), as well as other NASA directorates and government agencies.
What does your team hope to achieve?
Improved access, usability, and impact of NASA's space science education programs yielding increased national science literacy and appreciation for NASA's role in space exploration, delivered through nation-wide impact science education programs tailored to specific targeted audiences.
Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. (Carl Sagan)