NASA’s Office of Education selected 11 proposals to assist the
agency in developing innovative ways to engage and educate the public
and inspire the next generation of explorers through the Vision for
Space Exploration.

The proposals span the breadth of educational opportunities. Selected
proposals use science, technology, engineering and mathematics
resources to develop engaging experiences, materials and information.
Science centers, museums, planetariums, youth groups and other informal
education organizations will use these products.

Each of the selected proposals will host NASA Explorer Institute Focus
Groups, comprised of experts from the informal education community, to
identify strategies and approaches that will help NASA respond to
community needs.

“These focus groups will truly help us understand the needs of the
informal education community. The knowledge we gain will allow us to
foster new learning environments that spark the interest and
imagination of people from all segments of society,” said NASA’s Chief
Education Officer, Dr. Adena Loston.

The groups will convene in January and February 2005. The results of
their meetings will be used to develop the next phase of the NASA
Explorer Institutes Program. It is anticipated another solicitation for
NASA Explorer Institutes will be released in the spring.

NASA received 54 proposals in response to a cooperative agreement
notice for the informal education community. Through the solicitation,
the selected proposals will receive funding of up to $50,000 per
project. NASA Explorer Institutes is a new national program to
encourage and support projects that will improve the public’s
understanding and appreciation of science, technology, engineering and
mathematics disciplines.

The program will enhance scientific and technological literacy,
mathematical competence, problem-solving skills and the desire to




Herndon, VA

Exploring How To Use Electronic-Education
and Multimedia To Inspire American-Indians on Reservations to Pursue Studies
in Aerospace

ArtReach proposes to conduct a Focus Group designed to find
ways to inspire American Indian youth on reservations to pursue opportunities
in aerospace and related technologies. Focus Group platforms integrate
cultural arts, kinesthetic and interactive role-play, and conflict resolution
techniques. Strategic relationships with American Indian executive leaders,
informal educators, and community-based organizations allow us to recruit
key personnel to assess needs specific to reservation communities. Focus
group participants will identify needs and strategies to increase access
on reservations to relevant NASA assets (staff, research, technology,
information, and facilities). Our goal is to reach parents and educators
with limited resources through informal education using best-cost strategies.
We will unite organizations with enormous reservoirs of experience and
develop strategies to communicate the opportunities in aerospace to reservation
communities. Our studio will deliver an E-Education website that communicates
focus group insights and findings, while serving as an instructional model
for like-minded efforts.

American Museum of Natural History

New York, NY

Seeing the Universe: Visualizing Space for
Informal Science Education Audiences

The proposed focus group will bring together visualization providers,
users, commercial vendors and NASA scientists and mission personnel in
order to identify the next steps and coordinate our efforts. We will examine
the lessons learned from previous efforts and identify the assets, capabilities,
needs, and limitations of each community involved in bringing high quality
visualizations to informal science education audiences. Special attention
will be paid to developing tool kits that empower informal education institutions
to tailor content to their particular audiences, technologies, and programs.
Additional focus will be placed on the unique needs of and opportunities
provided by domed/immersive theatres. The focus group will foster inter-community
communication and coordination, leading to collaboration on future projects.

Auburn University

Auburn, AL

Extending NASA Education Resources Through

Representatives from several state 4-H Youth Development programs will
engage in focus groups to identify strategies that can improve capacities
of youth professionals, volunteers, and young people to equip and inspire
the next generation of space explorers. This strategic planning process
will help guide training, resource development, and collaboration between
USDA and NASA. Implementation of the resulting plan will enable 4-H and
NASA to increase public understanding of STEM disciplines and policy issues,
expand youth organization partnerships, extend informal STEM education
to underserved youth and their communities, and engage parents in their
children’s formal and informal education in STEM disciplines. 4-H is the
youth development arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Cooperative
State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) operating through
the Land Grant University System. 4-H is a youth development program that
provides hands-on, experiential learning. With a network of more than
3,000 county and state staff working at the community level through clubs,
schools and other community based organizations, more than 7 million young
people are engaged in various learning experiences through 4-H each year.

Chabot Space & Science Center

Oakland, CA

NASA Explorer Institutes Pilot Focus Group
on Digital Planetariums: Building Bridges between Informal Science Education
Institutions, Universities and National Labs, Planetarium and Interactive
Games Programmers and NASA Staff and Facilities

The proposed NEI Focus Group to be facilitated by Chabot Space &
Science Center will bring digital planetarium storytellers, programmers,
and institutions together with interactive computer games developers,
NASA science and technology staff, and university representatives to create
and publish a roadmap for the convergence of diverse communities and disciplines.
There are few media experiences more powerful than the modern digital
planetarium. The immersive nature of these hemispheric theaters facilitates
the delivery of programming with affective educational goals such as inspiration,
awe, and the stimulation of wonder in addition to the usual cognitive
goals. There are currently over 60 planetaria, both large and small, utilizing
digital projection technologies. This number is expected to grow rapidly
with simple high-resolution fisheye display systems now flooding the market.
These systems utilize powerful PC-based 3D graphics engines that are capable
of accessing, navigating, and displaying complex scientific models and
databases in real time. The most adept programmers of such systems are
now to be found in the computer games industry, while the best simulations,
databases, and scientific staff are found at NASA, our universities and
national labs. The Chabot community believes that this focus group will
produce exciting ideas for partnerships to produce informal science education
products and activities that will inform and engage the public in space
science exploration like never before.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education

Kansas City, MO

Challenger Learning Center Network NEI Focus
Groups Exploring Common Resources and Needs With NASA Field and Education

Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center Headquarters)
proposes to facilitate a series of five topical focus group meetings with
up to 52 Challenger Learning Centers and the formal and informal educational
partners associated with each Learning Center. Each of the five focus
group meetings will be facilitated using both synchronous and asynchronous
distance learning tools and will last for one week. The focus group session
will begin with a live presentation and Q/A using web-based collaborative
technology and conclude after a facilitated week long web-based discussion.
Active participation in these discussions will take place as participants
respond to a series of compelling questions and reflect on the responses
of others. After the 5 topical focus groups are completed active participants
will travel to Kansas City for a 3 day meeting to debrief and draft a
final report reflecting the group’s recommendations.

The EdVenture Group

Morgantown, WV

The Integration of NASA NEI Programs and Resources
into After School and Professional Development Programs Offered by Informal
Science Education Institutions in the Eastern Region via a Focus Group
Hosted by The EdVenture Group

The EdVenture Group, a non-profit organization focusing on the use of
science and technology in education through professional development and
consulting, proposes to host a focus group targeting individuals from
the informal science community in a ten state region that offer after-school
programs or professional development for teachers. The primary goal of
this focus group is to facilitate and document discussion focused on how
NASA can best provide engaging experiences, opportunities, materials,
and information to members of the informal science community.

The Franklin Institute

Philadelphia, PA

Using Internet2 in Informal Science Education:
Connecting K-6 Educators with NASA’s Earth and Space Science Resources

The Franklin Institute will convene a focus group for informal science
educators who are interested in determining innovative solutions to address
how informal science institutions use the web and Internet2 to connect
K-6 educators with NASA’s earth and space science resources. Regional
informal science educators will gather at The Franklin Institute for a
two-day conference in February, 2005. Educators and experts across the
country will be able to participate via Internet2. The focus group will
place special emphasis on considering the use of Internet2 as a way to
incorporate NASA’s resources into science center programs for K-6 educators.
Invited participants will represent the informal science education community,
the practicing K-6 education community, and the Internet2 network’s K-20
initiative. These three constituencies will bring the expertise needed
to imagine innovative solutions to the challenge of connecting NASA resources
with K-6 educators.

Great Lakes Planetarium Association

Minneapolis, MN

A Two Day Focus Group on How Best To Deliver
NASA’s Science & Technology Explorations To Small & Mid-Sized

The Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA) proposes a two-day focus
group conference consisting of small and mid-sized planetarium educators
and NASA staff. The meeting’s objective will be to identify up to five
strategies on how to best disseminate the NASA message and explorations
by leveraging the planetariums’ unique interface with their area communities.
GLPA will invite participants from all seven regional planetarium associations
across the nation, from several of the NASA regional centers representing
all sciences and technologies, and from other relevant parties who can
further the focus group objective.

Ou Sooner Flight Academy

Norman, OK

New Frontiers: Focusing on the Future of NASA
Explorer Institutes: A regional collaborative effort among NASA, The University
of Oklahoma’s Sooner Flight Academy and the Informal Education Community

The goal of New Frontiers: Focusing on the Future of NASA project sponsored
by the University of Oklahoma Sooner Flight Academy is to identify strategies
and approaches that can be used to effectively implement the objectives
of the NASA Explorer Institutes (NEI) Program to enhance the capabilities
of the informal education community to inspire the next generation of
explorers through access to NASA staff, research, technology, information,
and/or facilities. The project will also address the need to better serve
underrepresented and underserved communities in NEI activities. OU will
assemble experts from the informal education community to participate
in virtual and face-to-face NEI focus groups. A creative combination of
strategies will include focus group activities, the Delphi technique,
and the nominal group technique to elicit breadth and depth of ideas.
State-of-the art technology will support the project with electronic communication
and data collection. Information from the proposed focus groups will assist
NASA’s Education Enterprise to leverage partnerships with informal education
partners and share NASA discoveries and experiences across a wide range
of organizations. The participants will serve as change agents as they
share with their colleagues new ideas about the contributions NASA can
make to their organizations locally, regionally, and nationally.

Pacific Science Center

Seattle, WA

Bringing NASA into Focus: Improving Effective
Use of NASA Resources Within the Informal Science Education Community

Participants of the focus group will be drawn from the 10 institutions
that participated in the NOVA Origins Four-Part Television Series Educational
Outreach program. The 10 museums represent a wide range of sizes, locations
and diverse populations. Community members from Girl Scouts Totem Council
and School’s OU Washington have also been invited as well as our collaborators
at AAAS. During the Origins project, these informal educators participated
in a 3-day training program at the Space Telescope Science Institute in
Baltimore, MD and received educational materials covering a wide range
of NASA earth & space science topics. By including the members of
this unique set of informal educators, we will draw on the recent experiences
that each of them has had with receiving and using both NASA and non-NASA
education materials.

Space Science Institute

Boulder, CO

NASA Listens to the 4-Corners: Informal &
Formal Educators from the Rural and Culturally Diverse Areas of Colorado,
Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah Come Together to Guide NASA’s Informal Education

The goal of this project is to assess the needs and challenges of informal
educators in the 4-Corners region of the United States as they relate
to NASA’s informal education efforts. The 4-Corners region includes rural
and underserved areas of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah and includes
significant Native American and Latino communities. As such, it presents
an excellent opportunity for NASA to investigate the special needs of
smaller museums and the educators they work with in culturally diverse
and rural communities. The results will not only apply to the 4-Corners
region specifically, but will serve to inform efforts in other similar
regions across the nation. Our proposal focuses on three groups who interact
closely in their educational efforts: museums, formal educators, and leaders
of informal community and after school groups.