Explorations in K-12 Education and Public Outreach

S.S. Limaye, R.A. Pertzborn, L.A. Sromovsky (UW-Madison)

Space exploration remains a topic of immense interest and excitement for children and the general public. A diverse approach has been utilized at the Space Science and Engineering Center to initiate outreach and K-12 education activities. The hands-on experience gained through a working relationships with educators has been useful in understanding the challenges, usefulness and limitations of scientists' involvement in the education process. Our efforts have included school visits, development of lesson plans (KidSat), internet based activities (Planet Exploration Toolkit for Live from Mars, a Passport to Knowledge Project), World Wide Web, Public Lectures, summer teacher enhancement workshops, internships, and substitute teaching in science classes. The feedback and comments from teachers and students has demonstrated the usefulness and need for these efforts. The experience has also demonstrated that a committed effort in outreach is ultimately satisfying although immensely time consuming. Our outreach efforts have been partially supported by a NASA/IDEA grant, Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, NOAA and more recently, the Evjue Foundation (Madison-Wisconsin).