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NES Frequently Asked Questions
October 16, 2012


General

What are the requirements to be a part of this project?
Registration in the NASA Explorer Schools project is open to all educators working with students in grades 4-12 in the United States, a U.S. territory, or a Department of Defense or Department of State school. Upon registration, you will be asked to identify your position as one of the following: classroom teacher, administrator, pre-service teacher, homeschool educator, or other, which includes classroom support staff, informal educators and higher education staff.

Participation in NES recognition opportunities is limited to U.S. citizens with a current, valid education certificate in a state or nationally accredited education institution (grades 4-12) in the United States or a U.S. territory, or in a Department of Defense or Department of State school.
How do I become a part of the NASA Explorer Schools project?
Sign up at the Virtual Campus website.
Will any other subject besides science, technology, engineering and mathematics be included in this project?
NASA Explorer Schools content is flexible and easily integrated into a variety of disciplines. Although the primary focus is on mathematics, science, engineering and technology, teachers have found NES resources serve as a powerful context to support literacy, art, history, social studies and geography.
What opportunities are available to me?
Designed for teachers of grades 4-12, NASA Explorer Schools provides a forum for accessing free lessons, student engagement activities, classroom videos, professional development, and recognition opportunities centered on NASA missions and STEM. NES also offers multiple pathways for you to connect with other motivated STEM educators across the country to share best practices and classroom implementation ideas.
Is a list of educators, schools or students in the NASA Explorer School project available?
No. Because of federal privacy statutes, the names of educators, schools or students participating in the NASA Explorer Schools project cannot be provided.
Is the NASA Explorer Schools project available for teachers of grades 1-3?
The NASA Explorer Schools lessons and resources are designed for students in grades 4-12.
What professional development opportunities are available through NASA Explorer Schools?
Teachers have opportunities to participate in live professional development seminars delivered through the National Science Teachers Association or viewing teacher videos on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website, that supports effective use of NES lessons in the classroom. NES provides all-expenses-paid summer research experiences for eligible participants.
What is the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus?
The NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus is a website providing registered participants access to the following:
  • A searchable lesson library linking subjects they teach to NASA's innovative research and scientific discoveries.
  • Professional development and support to help them implement NASA lessons into the classroom.
  • NASA Now classroom videos featuring NASA careers and STEM concepts connected to real-world missions and projects.
  • Live video chats where students have an opportunity to ask content- or career-related questions of NASA experts.
  • Collaboration tools for gathering and sharing ideas and resources with other NES educators and NASA staff.
  • Recognition opportunities for eligible participants.
  • Help Desk support.
What is NASA Explorer Schools?
NASA Explorer Schools gives educators of grades 4-12 access to NASA's people, missions, research and facilities. A comprehensive set of NASA's free classroom materials is available to help teach dozens of science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts.

NASA Explorer Schools invests in STEM educators to inspire and engage future scientists, engineers and technicians that NASA needs to continue our journey.
How much does it cost to be a part of the NASA Explorer Schools project?
Participation in the NASA Explorer Schools project is free. All project resources available on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus website are free. All materials are in the public domain and can be reproduced without restriction.
May I leave the project at any time?
Yes. Educator, student and school involvement is flexible and at the discretion of the participant.
Can more than one teacher from the same school participate in the project?
Yes. NASA Explorer Schools does not limit the number of teachers who can participate from a school or school district.
May I reproduce any materials provided?
Yes. You may download any material available on the NASA Explorer Schools website and make an unlimited number of copies.
What are the NASA Explorer Schools Goals and Objectives?
NASA Explorer Schools provides educators of grades 4-12 access to NASA's people, missions, research and facilities through a comprehensive set of NASA's free classroom materials to help teach dozens of STEM concepts.

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Registration and Orientation

If I register to participate in the NASA Explorer Schools Project, am I guaranteed acceptance?
Yes. The NASA Explorer Schools project is open to all educators working with students in grades 4-12 in the United States, a U.S. territory, or a Department of Defense or Department of State school. Upon registration, you will be asked to identify your position as one of the following: classroom teacher, administrator, pre-service teacher, homeschool educator, or other, which includes classroom support staff, informal educators and higher education staff.
How do I register to be a part of the NASA Explorer School project?
Sign-up at the Virtual Campus website.
How do I register for a NASA Explorer Schools orientation session?
Visit the NASA Explorer Schools home page and click on the Calendar of Events & Seminars button in the left column to see a calendar with upcoming orientation sessions. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with additional participation details. You also may view a self-guided orientation.
I'm a member of NASA Explorer Schools. Do I need to reapply each year?
No. However, each year you must update your profile for the upcoming school year.
If I register and join the NASA Explorer Schools project, what will be expected from me?
How involved you become in the NASA Explorer Schools project is up to you. Each year, NES recognizes participants demonstrating innovative integration of NES classroom resources and exemplary use of best practices in education to inspire student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. Based on levels of participation and implementation, educators earn eligibility for recognition and participation in an all-expenses-paid summer research experience at a NASA field center.
Do I need to work at an underserved, underrepresented, or economically challenged school or learning institution to participate in the NASA Explorer Schools project?
No, the NASA Explorer Schools project is open to all educators working with students in grades 4-12 in the United States, a U.S. territory, or a Department of Defense or Department of State school. Upon registration, you will be asked to identify your position as one of the following: classroom teacher, administrator, pre-service teacher, homeschool educator, or other, which includes classroom support staff, informal educators and higher education staff.
Do I have to be a mathematics or science teacher to join the NASA Explorer Schools project?
No, all educators are eligible to participate.
May I register to participate in the NASA Explorer Schools project if I am not a U.S citizen?
Yes, you may register if you work with students in grades 4-12 in the United States, a U.S. territory, or a Department of Defense or Department of State school. Upon registration, you will be asked to identify your position as one of the following: classroom teacher, administrator, pre-service teacher, homeschool educator, or other, which includes classroom support staff, informal educators and higher education staff.
Is there a fee or a cost to join the NASA Explorer Schools project?
There is no cost to join the NASA Explorer Schools project.
I missed my orientation session. Do I need to register for a new session?
Yes. Orientation sessions are held regularly and listed on the calendar of events and seminars on the Virtual Campus where you can select an upcoming session and sign up.
What are the classroom grade levels for the NASA Explorer Schools project?
The NASA Explorer Schools project is for teachers of grades 4-12.
What is the Web address for the NASA Explorer Schools project?
How many teachers will the NASA Explorer Schools project accept?
There is no limit on the number of teachers who can participate in the NASA Explorer Schools project.
I did not receive email verification after I submitted my registration for an orientation session.
There are three reasons you might not have received email from NASA Explorer Schools. First, the email may be in your junk/spam folder. Check this folder for the email. Second, your email provider or email program may be blocking NASA email. Set your email filter to accept email from the mail.nasa.gov, nasa.gov and okstate.edu domains. Check with your email provider or review your email program's help menu for instructions on how to receive email from these domains. Finally, you may have mistyped your email address when you entered it on the registration form. Verify your email address by logging in to the Virtual Campus and reviewing the email address listed in your profile.
When does the NASA Explorer Schools registration period end?
The registration process is on-going. There is no defined registration period.
Can NASA Explorer Schools alumni schools participate in the NASA Explorer Schools Project?
Yes, previous NASA Explorer Schools are welcome to participate and use project resources and apply for recognition opportunities.
May I attend more than one orientation session?
Yes, you may attend multiple orientation sessions; however, all orientation sessions cover the same information.

Orientation sessions are held regularly and listed on the NASA Explorer Schools calendar of events and seminars.
Can homeschool teachers register to be a part of the NASA Explorer Schools project?
Yes. Homeschool teachers can register and have full access to all NASA Explorer Schools resources; however, they are not eligible for recognition opportunities.

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Technology

Do I need any special software installed on my computer?
To access the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus, you need the latest version of an Internet browser with Flash and Java installed. Some of the lessons require additional software installed on student computers. Review each lesson's materials list to determine specific software needs. For NASA.gov site help and preferences visit http://www.nasa.gov/help/multimedia/downloads.html.
How do I comment on a Teachers Corner item?
If you want to comment on any of the Teachers Corner items, click on the title of the item. Generally, comments are reviewed on a daily basis, Monday through Friday. Comments will not be approved if they contain any website URLs, "smart" characters, or inappropriate or offensive language.
Which Web browsers can I use?
PC: The most current version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.
Mac: The most current version of Safari, Firefox, etc.
What is the Web address for the NASA Explorer Schools project?
How should I handle firewall port settings?
There are no known firewall issues related to the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.
How do I create a full-screen window to show video on a classroom video projector?
The video players used on the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus all have a button causing the video to play in full-screen mode. To exit full-screen mode, press the escape key on your computer's keyboard.
What kind of computer hardware is needed?
To participate in professional development events or to play NASA Now classroom videos, you need a computer connected to the Internet. Interactive audio during professional development events requires either a headset with microphone connected to your computer or access to a telephone capable of calling a toll-free number. If you want your entire class to view a NASA Now video, you may want to use a video projector and external speakers.
Do teachers need a username and passcode to access the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus?
Yes. A username and passcode are required to access NASA Explorer Schools lessons and resources, including the e-PD videos, support documents and NASA Now classroom videos.

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Communications

How do I contact NES staff?
To contact NASA Explorer Schools with questions regarding NES classroom resources, activities, recognition opportunities or other project offerings, send email to NASA-Explorer-Schools@mail.nasa.gov.
How do I sign up for an orientation session?
On the NASA Explorer Schools home page, click on the Calendar of Seminars & Events button in the left-hand column to access a calendar that lists upcoming orientation sessions. Click on an event to register in a session. You will receive an email reminder prior to the session with additional participation details. You may also view a self-guided orientation. Ensure your email program is set to accept email from NASA-Explorer-Schools@mail.nasa.gov, and the nasa.gov and okstate.edu domains.

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Resources

What teaching resources does the NASA Explorer Schools project offer?
NASA Explorer Schools offers three types of NASA educational materials through the Virtual Campus website. The resources are aligned to national standards and will help bring classroom science, technology, engineering and mathematics topics to life! The following are NES core offerings:
  • Lessons - NES provides a comprehensive set of teaching materials for dozens of STEM concepts in a searchable lesson library. Lessons are easy to implement and are educator-reviewed and tested.
  • Professional Development - The project offers professional development resources to support all NES lessons. Offering tips and tricks for classroom implementation, professional development is delivered online in live Web seminars led by NASA specialists, or through a professional development video collection for teachers on the Virtual Campus.
  • NASA Now Classroom Videos - These five- to seven-minute videos offer a snapshot of NASA's current events and research highlights, as well as introducing a range of STEM topics and careers through firsthand accounts from NASA subject matter experts.
What forms of support will be available for teachers?
Each lesson has related professional development providing background content and suggestions for classroom implementation. NASA Explorer Schools participants can attend instructor-led Web seminars or view teacher video collections online at their own convenience. Both professional development formats cover the same information.
What are the NASA Explorer Schools lessons?
NASA Explorer Schools provides access to a variety of cost- and copyright-free classroom activities, lessons, challenges, resources and opportunities addressing classroom science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts across grades 4-12. NES lessons are supported by instructor-led and on-demand professional development.
Are the resources 508 compliant?
Yes.
Are the NASA Explorer Schools lessons aligned to educational standards?
Yes. NASA Explorer Schools lessons are aligned to the national standards for science, mathematics, technology, Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards. If you need additional help with standards alignment, contact the Help Desk at NASA-Explorer-Schools@mail.nasa.gov.

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Recognition Opportunities

Will I need to travel?
All travel is voluntary. You may participate in the project and use all resources without applying for opportunities that require travel to a NASA center or a field location. If you elect to attend an event that does require travel, NASA Explorer Schools pays your transportation, food and lodging expenses.
How often may I take advantage of the recognition opportunities?
You can apply for recognition opportunities on a yearly basis.
What are the recognition opportunities being offered to teachers, students and schools?
Qualified teachers may apply to participate in summer research workshops at NASA centers where they will meet NASA personnel and interact with specialists in a research environment. These workshops offer teachers advanced training in how to use NASA-unique content. Detailed information about opportunities will be posted within the recognition section of the Virtual Campus.
As a teacher, what do I need to do to apply for teacher recognition?
To apply for recognition, you must be a U.S. citizen; have a current, valid education certificate in a state or nationally accredited education institution (grades 4-12) in the United States or a U.S. territory, or in a Department of Defense or Department of State school; do a NASA Explorer Schools lesson; attend a professional development seminar; and use a NASA Now classroom video. Log your participation by filling out a user generated activity form, which can be found in your profile on the Virtual Campus website.
Will I be able to visit/tour a NASA center as part of the NASA Explorer Schools project?
Some NASA Explorer Schools recognition opportunities for teachers may take place at one of NASA's field centers. Tours of the center may be included in the recognition opportunity.
Are teachers required to be away from school during the school year, and, if so, will funding be provided for a substitute teacher?
All opportunities requiring a teacher be away from school are optional. If you elect to attend an event where travel is required, NASA Explorer Schools pays your transportation, food and lodging expenses. NES does not provide funding for substitutes.
Are the research and recognition opportunities competitive?
Yes. Opportunities are competitive and are based on levels of participation and innovative use of project resources.

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Yearly Enrollment

As a returning participant, do I have to enroll for next year?
You do not need to re-apply for NASA Explorer Schools each year. However, each year, before you gain access to the Virtual Campus, you must update the information in your profile for the upcoming school year.
When is the enrollment period?
There is no enrollment period. NASA Explorer Schools accept project registration throughout the year. However, beginning sometime in the spring, current NASA Explorer Schools participants who wish to continue their involvement with NASA Explorer Schools must update their profile information.
If my personal, school, or classroom information has changed, will I be able to update that information on my enrollment form?
Yes. You will be able to update your school and personal information on the enrollment form. You will not be able to change your email address on this form. If you want to update your email address, email the Help Desk and we will assist you. NASA Explorer Schools uses your login email address for all correspondence so it's important to keep the email in your profile current.
What if I don't know my teaching assignment or school placement for the next school year?
If your teaching assignment or school placement is not yet finalized, when prompted for enrollment information, complete the form with the best information you have at that time. You can always return to the Virtual Campus later and update your profile.
If I completed an activity during one school year, will it count toward my eligibility for the next school year's recognition opportunities?
No. Any activities completed in one school year do not count toward recognition eligibility in any subsequent years. Activities can only be used for recognition eligibility in the year they are completed.

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Professional Development

What kind of professional development does NASA Explorer Schools offer?
Teachers have the opportunity to access professional development resources that support effective classroom implementation of NASA Explorer Schools lessons. NES professional development is delivered through live Web seminars hosted by the National Science Teachers Association and led by NES educational specialists. There are also on-demand professional development video collections pertaining to each lesson on the Virtual Campus. Teachers who demonstrate high levels of engagement in NES activities will be invited to apply for exclusive NES educator opportunities, including all-expenses-paid summer research workshops and professional development at a NASA field center.
How do I access on-demand professional development?
If you are a registered NASA Explorer Schools educator, log in to the Virtual Campus and click on Search NASA Explorer Schools Classroom Resources. When you search for lessons and professional development, your results will return links to Web pages for lessons. A link to on-demand professional development videos is on each lesson's page.
How do I sign up for live electronic professional development?
If you are a registered NASA Explorer Schools educator, you can log in to the Virtual Campus where there are three ways to register for live electronic professional development seminars:
What are the technical requirements for participating in a live electronic professional development seminar?
Participation in a seminar requires a computer connected to the Internet. For audio, you must have either a headset with a microphone connected to the computer or simultaneous access to a telephone capable of calling a toll-free telephone number. You may ask questions of the presenter through a chat window or on the telephone or headset. Be sure to check for updates to your browser and make sure you have the latest versions of a Flash and a multimedia player installed on your computer. For site help and preferences, visit http://www.nasa.gov/help/about/index.html.
How long are NASA Explorer Schools electronic professional development seminars?
The on-demand video collections total approximately one hour in length per lesson, broken down into shorter segments. Live Web seminars, delivered online in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association, are 90 minutes long.
Is there a limit to the number of live electronic professional development seminars I may attend?
If you are registered with NASA Explorer Schools, you may sign up for as many seminars as you want. Many seminars are repeated during the school year.
Can I get credit for participating in NASA Explorer Schools electronic professional development?
No, not at this time.

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Page Last Updated: November 6th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator