NASA’s Universe of Learning program’s Data Manipulation team, in collaboration with community partner Code.org and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, has created and released the “NASA’s Space Jam” application. The app includes tutorials to teach basics of coding and data sonification to learners, directly incorporating NASA astrophysics data, with coding activities for learners to create their own sonifications. Released in November, 2022, in time for the 2023 “Hour of Code”, the website has garnered over one million views to date.
While data from NASA telescopes can be translated from digital signals into cosmic images that would otherwise be invisible to humans, sonification techniques like those incorporated into NASA’s Space Jam app employ another of the senses by translating data into sound. Learners with no prior coding experience discover how to use computers to create and animate solar systems and then use them as musical instruments. Participants learn simple coding concepts such as if/then statements and loops; then, more advanced astronomical and musical concepts are introduced such as the period of a planet, musical notes, and musical scales. Eventually, learners use authentic exoplanet data to remix their own songs. Following a scaffolded set of activities, participants can experience real world applications of computer science to understand our universe and to create unconventional music.
Contributors and Developers: Matt Russo and Andrew Santaguida, SYSTEM Sounds, Dr. Kimberly Arcand, CXC visualization scientist, and April Jubett, CXC 3D modeling/printing expert, and Kristin DiVona, GUI developer. Eric Fershtman, Program Manager, Code.org
NASA’s Universe of Learning is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC65A and is part of NASA's Science Activation Portfolio. Learn more about NASA’s Universe of Learning: https://science.nasa.gov/science-activation-team/universe-of-learning