Text Size
Brian Campbell Bowls Over Earth Science Students
November 12, 2013


Name: Brian Campbell
Title: Senior NASA Earth Science Education Specialist
Organization: Code 610.W, Hydrospheric and Biospheric Sciences, Earth Sciences Division, Wallops Flight Facility

Earth science education specialist Brian Campbell motivates teachers and students to be excited about NASA Earth science.

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

I am the education lead for two missions, the Soil Moisture Active Passive Mission and the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 mission. I teach teachers how to teach kids all about NASA Earth science. I develop lessons and go to local schools and various national teacher conferences to help teachers implement them. The lessons are for kindergarteners through undergraduates.

Based on NASA’s Earth science discoveries, I develop written, hands-on activities for the teachers to use. As an example, I developed an activity that uses soil moisture probes to measure the amount of soil moisture in the ground in the school yard. Over time, the children will see changes. The SMAP mission will conduct similar measurements from space, so this activity makes the children feel more connected to the mission.

My office is at Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore. I transferred from Goddard to Wallops in February 2012, but I return to Goddard every two weeks for standing meetings. It takes about 3 ½ hours to drive between Goddard and Wallops.

What is the most important lesson you try to teach?

I want everyone to learn about the Earth science we do at NASA and apply what they learn to their lives. For instance, ICESat-2 studies the thickness of ice sheets. Why would a sixth grader in southern Maryland care about melting ice in Greenland? The ice that melts in Greenland flows into the ocean and is a major contributor to global sea level rise. If the Greenland ice continues to melt at the rate it is, these children will see a measurable rise in sea level where they live.

What is the most common question you are asked at these schools?

The children always ask me if I am an astronaut. I tell them that they don’t make space suits this big—I am six feet, eight inches tall.

What one word or phrase do you wish teachers and students would use to describe the hands-on activities you give them?


Do you have a teaching background?

After earning a graduate degree in education, I taught ninth grade Earth and space science at Cambridge South Dorchester High School in Cambridge, Md. for four years. Years later, I saw a former student of mine, Heather Hanson, at a NASA Earth science educational outreach retreat. I was happy to learn that she now works at Goddard in Earth sciences and is active in outreach.

Why did you become a teacher?

I was always interested in learning about our planet. I wanted to get students just as excited as I was about our planet.

Do you collaborate with other NASA centers?

I am also the education lead for the NASA Know Your Earth Campaign, which is a collaboration involving 22 Earth-observing missions across Goddard, Langley Research Center and Jet Propulsion Lab. This outreach campaign connects all the science from these missions, which gives me something huge to take to the public, to get people more excited about NASA’s Earth science research.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I love working directly with the scientists to learn the latest and greatest Earth science coming from NASA and then using that information to inspire teachers, students and the public. Working for NASA is fun, rewarding and very exciting. I am never bored.

Why is Wallops a great place to work?[image-78]

Wallops is in a relaxed, country-like environment away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Also, I can see aircraft landing all the time outside my office window.

What is your dream job?

I love what I do and I’m in my dream job. I’ve wanted to work for NASA since I was a toddler.

What one word or phrase best describes you?


Is there something surprising about you, your hobbies, interests or activities outside of work that people do not generally know?

Yes, I am a competitive, ten-pin bowler. I’ve been ranked in the top ten in Maryland and Delaware for the past several years.

For more about Brian’s competitive streak, see “The Perfect Game:” http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/about/people/bcampbell-og.html

Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Image Token: 
Brian Campbell
Brian Campbell during a teaching moment.
Image Credit: 
Image Token: 
Brian Campbell bowling during the Baton Rouge USBC Open
Brian Campbell during the Baton Rouge USBC Open.
Image Credit: 
Courtesy of Brian Campbell
Image Token: 
Page Last Updated: November 12th, 2013
Page Editor: Lynn Jenner