May 4, 2017
Photo of Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology and Science (PLANETS) team

Team Mission

Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology, and Science (PLANETS) is five-year interdisciplinary and cross-institutional partnership to develop and disseminate out-of-school time curricular and professional development (PD) modules that integrate planetary science, technology, and engineering. The Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Northern Arizona University, the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center, and the Museum of Science Boston are partners in developing, piloting, and researching the impact of three out of school time planetary science and engineering curriculum and related professional development units. These units and professional development support products are being developed and tested with diversity and inclusion of youth as drivers.

What does your team hope to achieve?

We will have three nationally available engineering units along with planetary science lessons and educator support materials. We are developing these products to inspire all youth, particularly underserved youth, in STEM learning. By providing engaging and inspiring activities for out-of-school contexts, we aim to positively impact student attitudes towards science and engineering and inspire further interest in NASA and STEM.

Middle Grades Out-of-School Time Units

Engineering Everywhere

Worlds Apart: Engineering Remote Sensing Devices introduces youth to an Engineering Design Process in a planetary remote sensing challenge. The unit is set in a real-world context of scientists exploring a newly discovered moon. As part of the unit, the youth learn how mirrors are used to see around objects, how light is filtered to provide specific information about minerals, and how LiDAR is used to determine topography. Youth work with teammates to use these technologies to engineer a remote sensing device that is able to gather information about the surface of a model Mystery Moon.

Testing the Waters: Engineering a Water Reuse Process introduces youth to an Engineering Design Process in a challenge for a water filtration process for grey water. The unit is set in a real-world context of scientists developing grey water filtration systems for extreme environments. As part of the unit, the youth explore water quality, different types of filter materials and how they can be combined to filter different types of grey water. Youth work with teammates to use these technologies to engineer a process for reusing water in extreme environments.

PLANETS Science Series

Worlds Apart: Remote Sensing of Mars focuses on planetary questions of habitability of Mars. Youth explore actual NASA data collected with remote sensing technologies to collect evidence for best locations to explore habitability on Mars. Youth explore visual images of Mars to identify landforms that might indicate evidence of past water. Topographic data is explored to reveal the terrain and topography of Mars, and spectral graphs of reflected light are examined to determine the location of minerals that might indicate evidence of past water. Youth apply what they learned to recommend the safest, most scientifically interesting landing site to NASA.

Elementary Grades Out-of-School Time Unit

Engineering Adventures

In Good Hands: Engineering Space Gloves is an elementary school engineering and science unit in which youth learn about materials engineering and work together to engineer a model space glove that protects against certain hazards of space. India and Jacob visit Antarctica to learn about space hazards and help engineer part of a space suit for a new NASA mission! Kids work as materials engineers, considering the trade-offs of each material in their space gloves to help astronauts complete one of three missions to an asteroid, Earth’s moon, or Mars.

More Science Activation Teams

“We have an extremely talented team who bring together diverse expertise – all focused on bringing STEM experiences to youth in out-of-school time programs. We love the collaborations with each other and with the rest of the NASA collaborators in the SMD education group.” Joëlle Clark, Principal Investigator.

“We’re excited to be part of this project and to build on work we’ve already done with support from NASA to bring engaging aerospace and aeronautical engineering activities to afterschool programs,” says EiE director and Museum vice president Christine Cunningham, PLANETS Co-Investigator.

"We geologists and planetary scientists are excited to be on the PLANETS project because it enables us to share our love of science, engineering, and exploration of the Solar System through proven educational channels and with many more learners than we would be able to do on our own." Moses Milazzo, USGS PLANETS Co-Investigator