Blast Back to School 2010
Two students looking at a model rocket

Offer your students the opportunity to learn about NASA through educational resources, events, projects and media. Image Credit: NASA SOI

The beginning of the school year is a great time to explore the challenges and exciting opportunities from NASA for educators and students. The agency offers a variety of student and teacher opportunities, printed educational products, multimedia, and assorted other materials and websites related to NASA's educational programs. NASA resources give educators the opportunity to learn about careers, science, technology, and how their students can be among NASA's future team of scientists and engineers.

NASA Explorer Schools

The NASA Explorer Schools project is NASA's classroom-based gateway for middle school (grades 4-8) and high school (grades 9-12) classrooms. NES provides free teaching and learning resources that promote student engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. The project provides opportunities for teachers and students to participate in NASA's mission of research and discovery through inquiry-based experiences directly related to the work of NASA scientists and engineers.

The words Virtual Campus appear over the words NASA Explorer Schools Project

Register for NASA Explorer Schools on the NES website. Image Credit: NASA

Throughout the school year, the NES Virtual Campus website will serve as a portal to dynamic learning experiences, allowing students to examine real-world problems and challenges based on NASA research and exploration. Classroom activities are coupled with special events featuring interactions with NASA's scientific and technical workforce, so students learn firsthand about mission highlights, new technologies and research findings.

Teachers have the opportunity to participate in professional development experiences delivered through NES Virtual Campus technology to support effective classroom implementation of NES resources.

At the end of the year, NES will recognize its best teachers and schools with NASA experiences such as field center training, research opportunities and flights aboard a reduced-gravity aircraft.

NASA Summer of Innovation

Summer of Innovation is a multifaceted, intensive middle school project. It is designed to improve teaching and learning in partnership with federal agencies, academic and informal organizations, nonprofits, and industry. The Summer of Innovation project engages thousands of middle school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, during the summer months when many students experience what is known as the "summer slide," a loss of skills acquired during the school year. The project is a cornerstone of the Educate to Innovate campaign announced by President Obama in November 2009.

Events and resources are available for educators, students, families and organizations. NASA Aerospace Education Specialists have developed six 30-hour thematic units of NASA content. Specific hands-on, problem-based activities and resources have been identified that are appropriate for the summer learning setting based on the characteristics presented by the National Summer Learning Association. Thematic Units include (1) Let's Fly -- Aeronautics, (2) Life Here and Out There, (3) Cosmic Connection to the Universe, (4) 3, 2, 1, Liftoff -- Rocketry, (5) Discover Mother Earth and Father Sky, and (6) Robots Explore.

NASA's Education Office will evaluate the 2010 pilot as it plans for another Summer of Innovation in 2011.

Current Opportunities for Students and Educators

A young woman observes a milling machine

Cristal Vasquez conducts research during a NASA internship at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Image Credit: Eugenio 'Keno' Urquiza/JPL

Current Opportunities is a collection of opportunities for either students or educators, organized in an easy-to-find way. The opportunities consist of programs, projects, contests, webcasts, or other miscellaneous events that are available to educators and/or students. The opportunities are segmented by grade levels, specifically K-4, 5-8, 9-12 and Higher Education. The Educators section also includes a segment for informal educators. The Educators Current Opportunities section includes a listing of all items. The opportunities are listed by date so that the items with the most recent deadlines are toward the top of the listing. Items that are always open and do not have a deadline are listed toward the bottom of the pages. They are updated as often as new items come in, with outdated items being removed as deadlines expire.

Current Opportunities is a great way for educators and students to find ways to be involved with NASA.

For Educators:
> http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/current-opps-index.html
For Students:
> http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/current-opps-index.html

National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program

NASA initiated the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, also known as Space Grant, in 1989. Space Grant is a national network of colleges and universities. These institutions are working to expand opportunities for Americans to understand and participate in NASA's aeronautics and space projects by supporting and enhancing science and engineering education, research, and public outreach efforts. The Space Grant national network includes over 850 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies. These affiliates belong to one of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The 52 consortia fund fellowships and scholarships for students pursuing careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology, or STEM, as well as curriculum enhancement and faculty development. Member colleges and universities also administer pre-college and public service education projects in their states.

Taking Up Space Blog -- Go Backstage With NASA Education

NASA education writer Heather R. Smith takes readers behind the scene with a new blog for high school and college students. Taking Up Space tells the stories of students involved in NASA internships, co-ops, research projects and challenges, and it shares other cool information from NASA insiders. NASA has an entire universe of opportunities available to students and is eager for tomorrow’s scientists and engineers to get involved with the agency and its missions today!

Homework Topics for Students

Create lesson plans using NASA articles for students. Titles include topics about aeronautics, astronauts, Earth science, general science, history, rockets and space vehicles, and space science.

Topics for grades K-4
> http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/homework-topics-index.html

Topics for grades 5-8
> http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/5-8/features/homework-topics-index.html

NASA's Education Resources -- Easy Ways to Obtain NASA Educational Materials

NASA.gov serves as the gateway for information on missions, research, programs and services offered by NASA. The educational sections provide educators access to curriculum support materials and resources produced through collaborations with NASA mission experts.

NASA's Office of Education works collaboratively with NASA experts to promote education as a component of NASA research and development missions. These efforts result in innovative and informative educational materials that engage student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Find NASA Teaching Materials

An online search tool helps educators locate materials for the classroom. Users may sort products by grade level, type of product or topics.

Types of Materials
  • Bookmarks
  • Classroom Activities
  • Educator Guides
  • Lesson Plans
  • Lithographs (Images)
  • Play and Learn
  • Posters
  • Program Brochures
  • Video Learning Clips
  • Websites

NASA's Educator Resource Center Network

NASA's ERCs are located throughout the United States, in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Puerto Rico. ERCs offer information about NASA and its educational resources and services. Personnel provide inservice and preservice training using NASA curriculum support materials. ERC team members also collaborate with educational organizations to foster system initiatives at local, state and regional levels. Contact a NASA ERC for services in your area.

Central Operation of Resources for Educators

CORE serves as the worldwide distribution center for NASA-produced educational multimedia materials. For a minimal charge, CORE provides curriculum support materials to educators who are not able to visit one of NASA's ERCs or who are looking for large quantities of materials. Educators can use CORE's online catalog and mail-order service to purchase NASA education materials. Products include activity kits, bulletin boards, CD-ROMS, DVDs, publications, slide programs and videotapes. Closed-captioned and audio-descriptive versions of many materials are available.

Educational Multimedia NASA offers educational multimedia such as the Do-It-Yourself Podcast activity for students, video learning clips, webcasts, monthly educational programming on NASA TV and image galleries.
NASA Education EXPRESS Mailing List

Sign up to receive e-mail announcements about NASA products, activities, workshops, events and opportunities to bring NASA educational resources into your classroom.

NASA Educational Technology Services Team