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NASA’s Universe of Learning: Best Practices in Connecting Learners to NASA Astrophysics Subject Matter Experts

Presentation #221.04 in the session Education and Public Engagement for Upcoming Eclipses and Community Scientists.

Published onJul 01, 2023
NASA’s Universe of Learning: Best Practices in Connecting Learners to NASA Astrophysics Subject Matter Experts

The NASA’s Universe of Learning (NASA’s UoL) project creates and delivers science-driven, audience-driven resources and experiences designed to engage learners of all ages and backgrounds in exploring the universe for themselves. Project objectives include increasing learners’ understanding of the process of science and key topics in astronomy, and increasing engagement of NASA Astrophysics subject matter experts in the learning environment.

In this presentation, we will discuss how NASA’s UoL approaches our objective of increasing subject matter expert (SME) participation in STEM learning, as well as share data on how SMEs want to be engaged and best practices that we have developed. In this instance, SMEs are the scientists and engineers that represent the broad range of NASA Astrophysics missions and science themes. SMEs provide a direct connection to the science, ensure accuracy of content, and provide learners with a personal connection to NASA science. Research and our external evaluation show that these direct connections to science are critical to enhancing learners’ experiences and outcomes. There are also challenges when it comes to engaging SMEs. During this presentation, we will share out best practices on how to effectively engage subject matter experts, including:

· Recruiting SMEs by meeting them where they are, by using pre-existing infrastructure

· Supporting SMEs over different experience levels

· Creating support and infrastructure to meet the needs of stakeholders, audiences, and SMEs

· Considering limitations such as SME availability and geographic restriction

Finally, we will present our SME database and resources NASA’s UoL has available to SMEs, how to get involved, and where we are going in the future.

The competitively-selected project represents a unique partnership between the Space Telescope Science Institute, Caltech/IPAC, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and is part of the NASA Science Mission Directorate Science Activation program. This presentation is based on work performed as part of the NASA’s Universe of Learning project and is supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award number NNX16AC65A.

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