Story Time From Space (Story Time From Space) - 03.13.19

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Story Time From Space combines science literacy outreach with simple demonstrations recorded aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Crew members read five science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related children's books in orbit, and complete simple science concept experiments. Crew members videotape themselves reading the books and completing demonstrations. Video and data collected during the demonstrations are downlinked to the ground and posted in a video library with accompanying educational materials.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Diane Mathews, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Story Time

Principal Investigator(s)
Diane Mathews, CASIS, Melbourne, FL, United States
Patricia Tribe, T2 Science and Math Education Consultants, League City, TX, United States

Information Pending

Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), Melbourne, FL, United States
T2 Science & Math Education Consultants, League City, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2013 - September 2014; September 2015 - March 2016; March 2016 - October 2019

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Story Time’s active payload consists of five hard cover STEM related children’s books and a demonstration kit for physics and simple science concept experiments.  Payload operations require crew members to videotape themselves reading the stories and demonstrating STEM concepts from the books. Data collected from sensors attached to the demos, collected in the data unit and interfaced with the laptop, is downlinked with recorded videos to ground. The videos are edited and posted to a video library, along with accompanying educational materials, on the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) Academy educational website. 
  • Story Time From Space provides an opportunity to reach a demographic previously underserved by reaching out to libraries across the country and the International Reading Association.  Both of these groups provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the ISS and to connect literacy with STEM concepts.
  • The Story Time From Space objectives include:
    • Increase awareness of the ISS
    • Engage elementary students’ imagination and interest in space exploration, STEM concepts and careers
    • Engage teachers in using literacy to help teach STEM
    • Provide teachers an engaging method to teach STEM concepts required by their curriculum
    • Utilize the ISS to productively support our Nation’s educational goals
    • Provide a direct way for astronauts to engage with millions of students through the video library.
    • Utilize technology to access and engage students and teachers.


According to the recent 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress study, there has been little or no improvement in U.S. students’ STEM understanding compared to other countries over the last three years.  Teachers, especially, in the elementary years have been reducing the number of hours that science has been taught in order to focus on language arts.  Our educational system is in need of improving comprehension and involvement in literacy and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  These two topics are intertwined - one does not need to be sacrificed for the other.  Without literacy students will not have the basis to engage successfully in STEM.  Without STEM, research, space exploration and the technological advancement of our society will weaken even more than it currently has.
The reality is that the average U.S. citizen saw Space Shuttle missions as ‘our space program’ even though the International Space Station (ISS) has been flying and successfully operating for over ten years.  Now that shuttles have been retired the utilization and public awareness of space station must take a priority.  Space exploration is a captivating and motivational way to engage children of all ages and the ISS is an amazing venue to help focus that awe.  The Story Time From Space program addresses all these needs - literacy, STEM, awareness and utilization of the ISS.
Story Time From Space is implemented as an advocacy STEM project which includes outreach to the National Science Teachers Association, International Reading Association and the Public Library Association.  Additionally, the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) is entering into an agreement with award-winning author Dr. Jeffrey Bennett and Astronaut Alvin Drew to write a series of at least three children’s books based on the ISS.
A CASIS website where the edited video of the on-orbit book reading and science demonstrations are housed is in development.  In addition, existing on-orbit footage is used to supplement the STEM concepts discussed in the books.  A professional development workshop is in development for educators to demonstrate the uses of STEM literacy in the classroom.  This workshop is presented at the National Science Teachers Association, International Reading Association and Public Library Association national conferences.
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA):  Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the National Science Teachers Association is a member-driven organization, 60,000-strong. NSTA publishes books and journals for science teachers from kindergarten through college. Each year they hold four conferences on science education:  three regional events in the fall and a national gathering in the spring. NSTA provides ways for science teachers to connect with one another.  And, they inform Congress and the public on vital questions affecting science literacy and a well-educated workforce.
International Reading Association (IRA):  Since 1956, IRA has been a nonprofit, global network of individuals and institutions committed to worldwide literacy. More than 70,000 members strong, the Association supports literacy professionals through a wide range of resources, advocacy efforts, volunteerism, and professional development activities. Our members promote high levels of literacy for all by:
• Improving the quality of reading instruction
• Disseminating research and information about reading
• Encouraging the lifetime reading habit.
Public Library Association (PLA):  The Public Library Association (PLA), with more than 11,000 members, is one of the fastest growing divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), the oldest and largest library association in the world. Founded in 1944, PLA is a member-driven organization that exists to provide a diverse program of communication, publication, advocacy, continuing education, and programming for its members and others interested in the advancement of public library service.
Dr. Jeffrey Bennett: Jeffrey Bennett holds a B.A. in Biophysics from the University of California at San Diego and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He currently specializes in mathematics and science education, spending most of his time as a writer, along with speaking to audiences ranging from elementary school children to college faculty, and offering teacher in-service workshops. He has taught extensively at all levels, including having founded and run a private science summer school for elementary and middle school children.

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Space Applications
After the retirement of the space shuttles, the ISS is the foremost mission of the U.S. space program. Story Time From Space capitalizes on the public’s interest in space and spreads awareness of the orbiting laboratory. The Story Time program inspires a new generation of schoolchildren to become interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. 

Earth Applications

A 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress found little to no improvement in U.S. student understanding of STEM concepts during the past three years. Story Time combines literacy comprehension and involvement with STEM education, rather than prioritizing one concept over another, so educators can meet curriculum and education standards requirements. Improved literacy and improved STEM proficiency prepares the next generation for the workforce of the future, including for space-related careers. 

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

The five passive books and soft-stowed demonstration kit are flown up on Orbital 1 and returned on a later flight. Downlink of videos, photos and data required.

  • Payload operations require crew members to videotape themselves reading the stories and downlinking the video to the ground.  In addition, the crew member videotapes the simple science demonstrations that complement the STEM concepts in the book. 
  • The video is edited and posted to a video library, along with accompanying educational materials, on the CASIS website.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Max Goes To The Space Station children’s book cover for Story Time From Space. Image courtesy of CASIS.

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Illustration of Max and ISS astronaut from children’s book for Story Time From Space. Image courtesy of CASIS.

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Max Goes To The Space Station pages 12 and 13 content for Story Time From Space.  Image courtesy of CASIS.

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