Blogs  |  1.10.2023

Attending the NASA SciAct Conference Leads to Inspiration

Lauren Goff

NASA Science Activation (NASA SciAct) is a cooperative network of select organizations from across the country to engage learners of all ages in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These organizations work to connect NASA experts, content, and experiences with learners to explore ways to activate minds and promote a deeper understanding of STEM. Challenger Center has been a member of the NASA SciAct community since 2016. Through a recently awarded $3-million cooperative agreement, Challenger Center renewed its membership in the NASA SciAct community.

The NASA SciAct community convenes at an annual conference each November, presenting an excellent opportunity for our team to learn from others in the space science education community, collaborate on program content, and establish new partnerships. This year, Education Program Directors Lauren Goff and Cheryl Burris attended.

Expanding Our Knowledge

Lauren and Cheryl attended listening sessions with speakers from NASA Education partners, including experts in accessibility; teacher education; and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). They brainstormed and collaborated in breakout sessions on educational topics and learned about organizations and programs like GLOBE, Citizen Science, NASA eClips, NASA Solar System Ambassadors, PLANETS, and Infiniscope.

It was truly inspiring to meet with fellow NASA SciAct community members to share ideas and learn from each other’s experiences and expertise!

Fully Engaged During Movie Night

One of the conference highlights was Movie Night—an annual tradition that allows SciAct members to share video clips from their current projects. With plenty of movie snacks to hold them over, Lauren and Cheryl watched amazing footage of Mars, video representations of planetary orbits, and clips of learners fully engaged in collaborative and exciting STEM activities.

One of the most memorable videos was shared by Eclipse Soundscapes, who provided information about the Annular Eclipse coming up in October 2023. The video included helpful information about the eclipse path and locations to view the event across the country. Another wonderful video shared by NASA eCLIPS provided information about their Great Boomerang Challenge. This instructional video shows students how to construct a boomerang to better understand aerodynamic forces and how objects move through the air.

It was a fun-filled evening that left Lauren and Cheryl truly inspired to continue Challenger Center’s mission to engage learners in STEM!

Setting the Stage for the Future

Challenger Center was also looking to establish potential partnerships to enhance the pre- and post-mission content for our new Center Mission: Earth Odyssey. This new mission is intended for an 8th-grade audience and explores geological and biological sciences to better understand our planet.

Pre- and post-mission content includes activities for teachers to use in the classroom:

  • Pre-mission content gives students a glimpse at what they’ll experience during their Center Mission.
  • Post-mission content includes supplemental activities to reinforce learning and spark curiosity after the mission.

Lauren and Cheryl had the opportunity to meet with many partners, brainstorm program ideas, and plan future collaborations.

Putting together a conference of this scale takes an incredible amount of planning, preparation, and flexibility. We want to give special thanks to NASA SciAct leaders Lin Chambers, Kristen Erickson, Kim Holloway, and Rachel Connolly. Their hard work and preparation made this conference a complete success. We’re feeling inspired and looking forward to incorporating new content and fresh approaches into our upcoming programming.

Thank you, NASA SciAct!