Education & Public Outreach Proposals Selected In Cycle 7

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Education & Public Outreach Proposals Selected In Cycle 7

The Cycle 7 Chandra EPO Peer Review, conducted by the CXC, was held in Cambridge MA on Dec. 7-9, 2005. A panel representing science, education, museum, Forum, and NASA mission and management perspectives reviewed 7 proposals. Four individual and 3 institutional proposals were submitted. Three individual and 2 institutional proposals were selected for funding. An overview of the selected proposals by type follows, alphabetically in order of PI last name.

Individual Proposals

Astrophysics Comes to Xavier University and Stays for Good
Science PI: Dr. Andrew Baker, NRAO
Co-I: Dr. Shamibrata Chatterjee, NRAO
Education Co-I: Dr. Kathleen McCloud, Xavier
University of Louisiana
Education Partner: Xavier University of Louisiana
Summary: This program plans to introduce NASA-related astronomy and astrophysics content to the physics program at Xavier University in New Orleans, a historically black college noteworthy for producing more African-American graduates with bachelor’s degrees in physics than any other U.S. college or university. The physics curriculum currently lacks astronomy and astrophysics content. In collaboration with Dr. McCloud, who is Chair of the Xavier Physics Department, Drs. Baker and Chatterjee will work with the physics faculty on the development of appropriate astrophysics elements for existing physics courses, and with students on a hands-on instrumentation project. While the initial project is modest in scope, it is intended to produce a program with long-term sustainability.

Space Astronomy in the Schools: Astronomy Workshops for North Carolina Teachers
Science PI: Dr. Stephen Reynolds,
North Carolina State University
Education Co-I: Dr. David Haase, The Science House/NCSU
Education Partner: The Science House (a statewide K-12
science/math outreach program based at
NC State)
Summary: This program plans to provide workshops with astronomy content for two high need/low wealth school districts (Onslow and Cumberland County Schools) in southeastern North Carolina. Fifty teachers will be recruited to participate in training to increase their astronomy content knowledge and improve their use of inquiry-based teaching. Hands-on, inquiry-based activities
will support the NC Science Standard Course of Study objectives. Teachers will be provided with materials as well as instruction to carry out the activities in their classrooms. The program will leverage the extensive expertise of the Science House staff in the delivery of such workshops.

Stop for Science! A Science Enrichment Program for Elementary Schools
Science PI: Dr. Patrick Slane, Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics
Education Partners: Fiske Elementary School, Lexington MA
Section Elementary School, Mukwanago WI
Summary: This program plans to develop materials aimed at science inquiry outside of the classroom to support the schools’ formal efforts to improve science learning. The “Stop for Science” program will develop large format posters for display outside of the classroom that leverage the inherent interest of elementary age children in NASA and space-related content. The posters will use specific astronomy and space science-related examples to illustrate selected general science and math concepts drawn from grade-appropriate learning standards. The posters will be placed in non-classroom areas of the partner schools, accompanied by a series of inquiry-based questions that are used to stimulate the children to engage further with the poster content. The concept was previously piloted in the partner schools. This program will develop additional posters as well as teacher resource materials that tie the poster content to classroom science learning standards, and provide teachers with suggestions for related and extended topics, demonstrations, and activities.

Team Proposals

Chandra Astrophysics Institute (CAI)
Science PI: Dr. Frederick Baganoff, MIT
Education Co-I: Dr. Irene Porro, Kavli Inst., MIT
Education Partners: John D. O’Bryant (JDOB) School of
Mathematics and Science, Boston MA
Rutgers Astrophysics Institute, Rutgers Univ.
Summary: This program will extend the CAI to the Boston Public Schools through a partnership with the newly established JDOB School, a specialized school within the Boston Public School system offering a comprehensive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum to a diverse student population. The program will leverage resources from several NASA EPO initiatives to promote STEM learning and careers to underserved urban youth. CAI will offer a four-week intensive summer institute to prepare students and their teachers for school-year research projects in astrophysics using software developed by the Chandra EPO program and real data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The program will be carried out by the EPO staff of MIT’s Kalvi Institute, and Chandra scientists, with support from the Rutgers Astrophysics Institute. During the school year, the program will provide mentoring, weekly interactions with teachers and students by means of the Virtual Educational Space Resource, and review of student work in monthly meetings. In addition, students will participate in the After-School Astronomy Project which utilizes the resources of the Timothy Smith Network to provide after school enrichment and learning opportunities using the Universe Forum’s Virtual Observing Network.

Rockets to Stars: Encouraging Girls’ Interest in
Astronomy and Technology
Science PI: Dr. Jennifer Sokoloski, Harvard-Smithsonian
Center for Astrophysics
Education Co-I: Alejandra Pallais, Science Club for Girls
Education Partner: Science Club for Girls, Cambridge, MA
Summary: This program will provide NASA-related astronomy and technology content to the Science Club for Girls (SCFG), an after-school program whose goal is to keep girls engaged, confident and successful in science from kindergarten through high school by providing mentoring and leadership opportunties, affirming college as an expectation, and fostering careers in science and technology as goals and options. The PI, and three other CfA female astrophysicists, will work with the EPO Co-I to use existing NASA EPO materials to provide hands-on space science themed activities for middle school girls, and to enhance the learning experience of the club’s all girl high school rocket team in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. The program will also provide NASA content training, role modeling, and leadership opportunities to club members who participate in the “Junior Assistant” program that provides peer mentoring to younger girls during family science nights and a summer science program.

Kathleen Lestition
Education and Public Outreach