NASA Expands Informal Learning Institutions Engaging Next Generation of Explorers
NASA’s Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions (TEAM II) program has selected three additional informal education organizations to promote learning in STEM with the goal of inspiring the next generation of explorers. The three organizations supplement an initial group selected in December 2019. The selected projects provide students with opportunities to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math behind NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration and aim to reach populations that are historically underrepresented in STEM professions.
The selected organizations will implement their proposals over the next three years, as a part of NASA’s Museum & Informal Education Alliance– a nationwide network of informal education professionals at more than 1,000 science museums, planetariums, NASA visitor centers, Challenger Centers, youth-serving organizations, camps, and libraries, as well as visitor centers at observatories and parks, nature centers, aquariums, and zoos.
The projects will provide authentic mission-driven STEM learning experiences via hands-on and virtual toolkits, a traveling exhibit, and community-focused professional development. In total, approximately $3 million will be awarded through cooperative agreements, which provide additional opportunities for interaction between recipients and NASA beyond the grants previously awarded through TEAM II.
The newly selected institutions and their projects are:
Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado
From Our Town to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond
Using a combination of a traveling exhibit, activity programming kits, and professional development, libraries across the country will increase their capacity to use NASA resources and engage their patrons in NASA’s mission to return permanently to the Moon while moving forward to Mars. The project builds upon the success of the Space Science Institute’s From Our Town to Outer Space project, funded by TEAM II’s predecessor, Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums, and Visitor Centers, program.
The Sciencenter, Ithaca, New York
Explore Science: Destination Moon
The Sciencenter, in collaboration with other partners in the National Informal STEM Education Network, will create a toolkit of hands-on STEM activities based on NASA’s continuing pursuit of human exploration of the Moon, as well as a mobile app that brings the excitement of future exploration of Mars and our solar system to home. The Sciencenter will distribute the toolkit to 350 science centers, children’s museums, and planetariums. The app will bridge STEM engagement in museums with learning experiences at home through interactive activity guides and customized connections to NASA visualizations and mission data.
The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
Mission to Mars: Boosting Community Engagement with NASA Resources
The Franklin Institute will develop a nationwide outreach program to bring together dozens of national and community partnerships across the country around NASA’s space exploration agenda through a series of professional development experiences. These experiences will equip informal science institutions, community-based organizations, and amateur astronomers with the skills and resources to develop and deploy high-quality astronomy engagement experiences for families and youth.
The STEM experiences provided by TEAM II directly align with NASA missions, including plans to send astronauts to the Moon as part of the agency’s Artemis program and prepare for human exploration of Mars. NASA’s Artemis program will send science and technology demonstrations forward to the Moon before landing the first woman and next man on the lunar surface. Finding and using resources in deep space is a key step for human exploration farther into the solar system.