NASA Data in My Field Trip
Climate change science is becoming a more frequent and integral part of the middle school curriculum. This project, NASA Data in My Field Trip, proposes to leverage a regional network of Informal Science Institutions (ISIs) committed to climate change education, the Global Climate Change Consortium (GC3). This project will support climate change education in the formal curriculum by creating opportunities for inquiry-based exploration of NASA data and products in class and as part of already established field trip experiences to ISIs. The ISIs of the recently formed GC3 include a broad range of science-based institutions including Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH), Carnegie Science Center (CSC), Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, National Aviary, and the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. Partners, Pittsburgh Public Schools and Wilkinsburg School District have respectively 70 and 99% minority populations. NASA Data in My Field Trip will build innovative connections among NASA data and products, ISI resources and experiences, curriculum standards, and educators in formal and informal environments. It has three components: (1) joint professional development for formal and informal educators, (2) in-class pre-field trip data explorations, and (3) the integration of NASA resources into ISI field trip experiences. In the first phase of NASA Data in My Field Trip, CMNH and CSC will pilot NASA resources as central components of middle school climate change field trips as well as in pre-visit experiences. In the second phase, three other GC3 ISIs will tailor the pilot products to their climate change field trips. In both phases, formal and informal educators will participate in joint professional development. Alignment with the school districts' curriculum and formative evaluation is critical at all steps of this project and will guide and inform the implementation of the project through both phases. The success of the project will be measured in terms of (1) educators’ attitudes toward and ability to use NASA resources, (2) the effectiveness of in-class and field trip experiences for students, (3) the development of a community of practice among informal and formal educators, and (4) the adoption of NASA data and products into informal and formal programming outside of the project’s specified reach. Primary strengths of this project are that it brings NASA resources to underserved schools and includes ISIs that have a commitment to climate change education but have not previously connected with NASA or its resources. Techniques developed in this project will be tailored to a diversity of ISIs and can therefore serve as a replicable model for NASA products throughout the ISI field.