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Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors: Integrating NASA Assets into Learning Environments

Presentation #323.06 in the session “Education and Public Outreach II: Students, Teachers, and Education Resources”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors: Integrating NASA Assets into Learning Environments

The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) program aims to measurably enhance student STEM learning and engagement via professional development (PD) for middle school, high school, and community college science instructors in selected schools and districts containing substantial numbers of underserved and underrepresented populations. A 9-month AAA teacher PD sequence culminates with a week-long STEM immersion experience at a NASA astronomy research center such as the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) facility in Palmdale, Calif. AAA teachers are required to incorporate into their science courses an electromagnetic spectrum and infrared astronomy curriculum module written by AAA staff. This module is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and includes hands-on student activities plus a SOFIA Science Case Studies student reader that provides NASA science content plus examples of science and engineering practices.,A randomized controlled trial (RCT) administered by WestEd evaluators verified that AAA teacher PD and subsequent delivery of the curriculum module did in fact spark significant student STEM learning and engagement. The RCT compared outcomes for a treatment group of 1473 students who received the curriculum module from teachers who had already flown on SOFIA versus a control group of 870 students who received ”business as usual” electromagnetic spectrum instruction from teachers who had not yet flown on SOFIA. The treatment group’s mean post-curriculum content test score was a factor of 1.18 higher than that of the control group, a difference of more than 9 standard errors. [Funded by NASA Cooperative Agreement NNX16AC51]

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