[This is one of a series of blog posts about our six-year involvement leading the NASA Heliophysics Science Education and Public Outreach Forum. ]
Evaluation for the NASA Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Forum focused on the three main goals: 1) Engage and develop the education and public outreach (EPO) community, 2) Analyze heliophysics EPO products and projects, and 3) Coordinate communication about EPO work. Through multiple evaluation activities over multiple years, we found the Forum was able to support the EPO community with professional development, an online community of practice, collaborative projects, and a database of resources. Community members became more engaged over time with each other and with the forum’s activities. They asked for, and received professional development on topics such as social media, scientist engagement, misconceptions, evaluation, NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), product review, 508 compliance (accessibility), and storytelling. They met monthly online, and yearly face-to-face, and collaborative projects grew out of that to co-host events, develop new initiatives, and share audiences. learn more...
community of practice
[Today's Multiverse Guest Blogger is Emmanuel Masongsong, a passionate outreach educator with NASA's THEMIS/ARTEMIS mission team at UCLA. Today he talks about the Planeterrella, a miniature Earth model that can simulate the aurora (Northern Lights) and other plasma phenomena, the sight of which causes "children and adults to shriek with delight, 'ooh-ing' and 'aah-ing' at the eerie glow of plasma suspended in a ring before their very eyes."]
I had a pretty strong amateur astronomy background, but when I joined the team in early 2011, heliophysics, near-Earth electromagnetism, and space weather really forced me to expand my perception. Describing the immense electromagnetic phenomena in the solar wind and Earth's magnetic field requires specialized instruments and multiple spacecraft to observe what humans cannot actually see. One of the first things I realized about space weather is that the media and the public's attention are heavily weighted to the visible solar phenomena of flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs)-- thanks to gorgeous images from SDO, SOHO, and STEREO. The news headlines harp on X-flares and devastating clouds of solar material (plasma) hurtling towards Earth, offering overly ambitious predictions of spectacular aurora that are not based on real-time satellite observations (and are thus usually disappointing). learn more...