Lunar and Planetary Institute

Left arrow Back to workshop home page

Learning from the Frontier: Getting Planetary Data in the Hands of Educators
March 14, 2004
Recommendations from the Community

These recommendations were voiced by workshop attendees in discussions during and following the presentations. The recommendations are intended to guide product and curriculum development for formal and informal educational environments.

Process of Development

Too often, products are developed for the educator or student without involving or understanding the needs of the intended audience. Data, programs, and products need to be better targeted and respectful of the time and abilities of the audience.

  • Involve participants from the intended audience in the development process in a manner that leverages their strengths. Possible participants include master teachers, scientists, students, etc.

  • Host a workshop that includes teachers for the purpose of brainstorming projects and sharing information about successful programs. Provide demonstrations of these programs.

  • Identify how the information can be used in a meaningful manner by the audience - what is meaningful to and/or needed by the student and/or educator?

  • Ensure that data, concepts, and programs are grade appropriate.

  • Identify what is meant by "data" by the different groups. There is a significant difference between raw data, processed data, imagery, etc.

Data Access/Presentation Issues

Educators often do not have time to research the data, determine how they can incorporate them into the context of classroom activities, and subsequently design activities that incorporate these data. Data often require considerable "filtering" to make them useable by students. Programs for working with data are not straightforward.

  • Present data in a manner that permits seamless access by students and educators. Clear, brief instructions and information are needed. If presented in the context of a lesson, data should be directly pertinent to the lesson and not require excessive manipulation.

  • Develop Web sites that are easy to navigate (three clicks to target) and intuitive.

  • Provide access to data through different organizational menus (e.g., topic, standards, grade level).

  • Provide multiple paths to access and use data - "high-tech, low-tech, and no-tech" options.

  • Present data in useable and flexible formats. Modify packages (adaptations stored on MOODLE [] ) as needed to allow ease of use.

  • Provide programs that allow students to manipulate data in an authentic, intuitive manner.

  • Provide access to data in different languages.

  • Consider coordinating data in a single location to simplify access.

  • Incorporate active collaborations with students where possible. Find ways in which students can use authentic data and contribute to the scientific process. Develop ways in which the information is archived.

Content and Curriculum Issues

There is a need to ensure accuracy of the space science content to maintain legitimacy of the products or programs. Data should not be presented just for the sake of data, but should be placed in the context of the broader learning environment.

  • Ensure that the data are peer-reviewed. Leverage existing review programs (e.g., DELESE, SSERD).

  • Develop a Web site (or use an existing one) for curriculum activity submission (e.g., DELESE, SSERD).

  • Leverage opportunities - present the data in the context of lessons:

  • Tie the data and technology to appropriate standards.

  • Integrate assessment into the lesson plan.

  • Include the language arts, math, history of science, etc.

  • Present information in a manner that allows the learner (student, educator, general public) to grow in their knowledge. Often large quantities of information are presented, but at the same (e.g., beginner) level.

  • Present mission information in the broader context of important scientific questions and the need to build knowledge and understanding.

Training Issues

Even the very best materials will not be used if the intended audience, or facilitators, do not receive training. Do not assume that the materials are straightforward in their use.

  • Provide training (tutorials, workshops) for the intended facilitators or users in the use of the data, delivery system, and associated content.

  • Leverage the skills of master teachers, Solar System Ambassadors, retired researchers, etc., in training.

Issues for the Planetary Data Community

This workshop was designed to initiate conversations among individuals and groups interested in how to best bring planetary data into the formal and informal educational environments. Other programs have demonstrated impact when the community remains engaged in the issues.

  • Work to build the community though e-mail lists, message boards, etc. Communicate resources and leverage existing resources. Stay connected!

  • Reflect on roles in the community. Who is best positioned to provide data? Develop classroom materials? Test the materials? For example, the PDSs and RPIFs cannot be the direct providers of data; researchers must get involved. Likewise, there is a role for professional curriculum and product developers.

  • Incorporate minority venues; don't forget diversity! Partner with appropriate and invested organizations.

  • Involve museums as a portal; these institutions can facilitate the dissemination of formal and informal materials.

  • Collaborate with pre-service faculty and community college faculty.

  • Help universities recognize that the investment in education and outreach is truly valuable and may warrant tenure "credit."

  • Acknowledge the time commitment for developing educational and outreach programs and products; faculty and educators cannot continue to "donate" time.


Left arrow Back to workshop home page

Last updated
July 24, 2008