NASA Science and Technology on the Family Calendar
NASA Science and Technology on the Family Calendar investigated the possibility of using local public and charter schools to recruit groups of families with middle-school-age children who would meet regularly to create NASA-themed programs for presentation to the general public at the Rochester Museum & Science Center (RMSC). The lead institution was the Rochester Museum & Science Center, in partnership with the Insight Lab at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science of the Rochester Institute of Technology, with evaluation services provided by the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester.
The original project concept was to work through the Rochester City School District, the Genesee Community Charter School (GCCS), the Rush-Henrietta Central Schoool District, and the West Irondequoit Central School District to recruit a cohort of twelve families from each district and GCCS. Each cohort would meet regularly over a period of months to develop a program of activities with support from RMSC educators and RIT students and STEM faculty.
Experience over three years indicated that recruiting family groups through RMSC's and RIT's own channels of communication could be as effective or more effective than working through school districts. Although some cohorts started with as many as twelve families, completion of each project was actually accomplished by smaller core groups of two to five families. Because of other stresses on students, parents and the school, one of our Rochester City School District partners was unable to produce a cohort of families that could meet regularly. For this school we arranged special all-school visits to the RMSC's Strasenburgh Planetarium. We also recruited a new cohort from the general public to create a sixth event as envisioned in our proposal.
Each of our six successful cohorts produced its own public event running from one to ten days at RMSC: "Planet Next: Where Are We Going and How Will We Get There?", "Space Odyssey: Colonization of Space," "Lasers," "Aliens: Friend or Foe?", "Evolution of Electronics" and "Our Home Planet." These events were created during 105 family meetings attended by 269 unique individuals (including children of all ages and adults) and seen by an estimated 5910 RMSC visitors.