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

Presentation #115.06 in the session Community Science and Public Engagement in Planetary Science, Astronomy, and Solar Eclipses (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 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.

Incorporation of subject matter experts (SMEs), in this instance scientists and engineers, into the learning environment provides a direct link to current NASA Astrophysics research, which enables rapid response to incorporate NASA science results into learning products, ensures the science content in our products is accurate and current, and connects learners to the people behind the science, who can act as role models. Research and our external evaluation show that these direct connections to science are critical to enhancing learners’ experiences and outcomes. 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.

During this presentation, we will share out best practices on how to effectively engage subject matter experts, including:

·Engaging SMEs interested in outreach by meeting them where they are through leveraging existing infrastructure

·Reducing barriers of participation by understanding how SMEs like to be involved, providing resources and training

·Considering limitations on SME availability and geographic restriction by leveraging increased familiar with virtual connection tools, nationwide networks of ambassadors, and virtual SME panels

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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