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NASA's explorer school and spaceward bound programs: Insights into two education programs designed to heighten public support for space science initiatives

December 31, 2009


Introduction

NASA has played an influential role in bringing the enthusiasm of space science to schools across the United States since the 1980s. The evolution of this public outreach has led to a variety of NASA funded education programs designed to promote student interest in science, technology, engineering, math, and geography (STEM-G) careers.

Purpose

This paper investigates the educational outreach initiatives, structure, and impact of two of NASA's largest educational programs: the NASA Explorer School (NES) and NASA Spaceward Bound programs.

Results

Since its induction in 2003 the NES program has networked and provided resources to over 300 schools across the United States. Future directions include further development of mentor schools for each new NES school selected, while also developing a longitudinal student tracking system for NES students to monitor their future involvement in STEM-G careers. The Spaceward Bound program, now in its third year of teacher outreach, is looking to further expand its teacher network and scientific collaboration efforts, while building on its teacher mentorship framework.