Reaching the Moon

Agenda | Participants | Resources | Notes | Evaluation Responses | Steering Committee

March 9, 2008
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Houston, Texas

Edited Notes

Christine attempted to assemble all of the various groups’ notes into a cohesive message or series without losing any of the key elements.  This organizational structure of the notes should not be mistaken for the order in which thoughts were presented or discussed.

First Small Group Breakout Discussion: What are the key messages to all audiences and why are they important for people to know? 

Many participants discussed the questions their various audiences have about the current and future exploration of the Moon, and what their audiences would think was important.
If educators are going to use the topic of lunar exploration to address science education goals, they need to answer these questions as a part of their messages:

  • Why should we explore the Moon or why are we going back?  Haven’t we already been there?
  • Is this money, this investment from NASA worth it?  What do we, the audiences get out of this?  What does this opportunity deny us?
  • How can we justify mining/developing other planets and the moon when we have had all these negative impacts on Earth?
  • Who owns the Moon?
  • Why should we be interested in current lunar exploration?

Participants also discussed what responses they could provide to these questions; these responses also often doubled as the key messages.  Some of these thoughts conflict with others:

1. Why should we explore the Moon; why are we going back?  Haven’t we already been there?

  • The Moon is a jumping-off point, a classroom, or a test bed for exploring the Solar System; a way-station leading on to Mars.
  • The Moon is in our own backyard—we should explore it because it’s near, and because we can (it’s do-able).
  • We should explore the Moon because of the opportunities this exploration creates, for tourism and education.
  • Our past exploration was incomplete; exploring the Moon requires a longer presence; the first missions to the Moon identified new questions that we’d like to answer.
  • Exploring the Moon will act as a basis or seed for growth in research and inspiring the development of new technologies; ‘spinoff’ technologies that are a direct result of space exploration that have a direct effect on our lives.
  • Exploring the Moon generates scientific excitement among the general public that is needed for our society to grow and compete technologically.
  • As part of our curious human nature, we need to explore; the Moon is our Jamestown; our exploration of the Moon is like the United States’ expedition to the West by Lewis and Clark which blazed the trail for others to follow; our current civilization is a direct result of exploration and subsequent development.
  • Exploring the Moon can provide new inspiration, generating new interest in science and opportunities at all levels and in all disciplines.
  • Exploring the Moon pushes us beyond our current capabilities, toward sustainable and responsible use of our Earth.
  • We can explore the Moon as an international endeavor—as a planet.
  • If we can live on the Moon, we can live anywhere.
  • This endeavor will draw scientists and engineers from other careers and retrain them, building passion!
  • There is inherent value of going beyond our planet.
  • The information we gather from exploring the Moon will help us understand the history of our Solar System.
  • Science and explorations of the Moon are processes and vehicles for inspiration.
  • The space program is about much more than the Apollo mission.  This is about engineering, economic development, innovation, as well as climate change, energy use, nutrition, all other related areas, etc.

2. Is this money, this investment from NASA worth it?  What do we, the audiences get out of this?  What does this opportunity deny us?

  • The cost needs to be put into context, the cost is low in relation to other expenditures made by the US Government.
  • All opportunities cost us.
  • It may cost US citizens more in the long run if we aren’t leading the Moon exploration; there is a cost to catching up.

3. How can we justify mining/developing other planets and the moon when we have had all these negative impacts on Earth?

  • The technological spin-offs created in our exploration may lead to solutions for environmental challenges on Earth.
  • The lunar resources may provide solutions to Earth-based resource challenges.
  • The Moon could provide valuable energy resources.
  • By using the Moon’s resources, lunar exploration won’t cost us as much of Earth’s resources.
  • We have not just done negative things to the Earth, we have done positive things.  We recognize that in order to do good elsewhere, we need plans and will move forward with plans to minimize impact.  – NASA actually needs to do this, though.
  • By working toward future colonies on the Moon, we will create a sustained environmental biosphere, which could teach us more about environmental sustainability on the Earth.
  • We need to watch our language, in view of the sacredness of the Moon among many cultures; we should explore the Moon and utilize its resources, without exploiting the Moon.
  • We need to take a responsible approach, with environmental precautions in mind.

4. Who owns the Moon?

  • The Moon is perceived as sacred among many cultures around the world; no country or individual can claim to own the Moon.
  • There should be international cooperation in our efforts to explore the Moon—working with nations as collaborators instead of working in parallel (to reduce wasted expenditures).
  • Whoever arrives at the Moon first will have the most power and ability to control how it is explored (“first come, best served”).
  • The exploration of the Moon should be regulated for responsible use, through international treaties.
  • Some are moved by concerns of a patriotic or national security viewpoint, who would like their country to succeed in this international competition to explore the Moon.

5. Why should we be interested in current lunar exploration?

  • Lunar exploration is within the scope of students; something they can study and eventually can participate in.
  • The topic integrates sciences.
  • This topic presents the opportunity to discuss our wider scope and broader mission: exploration, science, humanities, and global cultural understanding.
  • Lunar exploration is a beneficial multigenerational endeavor.
  • YOU are the space program.  You pay for it, you can get involved in it.  Your community, your children, and you are all a part and have a right to find ways.

Some groups then discussed the challenges in bringing these messages back to the audiences.

  • There is a misconception that the space program is just about sending one person to the Moon; the messages need to include the broader vision of impact on our lives.
  • Who is space exploration for?
    • Some believe that space exploration excludes them—by ethnicity, by generation, or by job background. 
    • There is a feeling that NASA is not doing enough to let the audiences know what they are doing – in a way that makes it meaningful to the audiences, and makes it a part of their lives.  This is the realm of education.
    • There is the need for the message that everyone has a part in our vision in the space future; it is important that public be a part, regardless of background (include artists, poets, etc.), and let young people be a part of the problem solving groups.
  • There are special generational challenges to reaching certain audiences:
    • Generation x-y wants to own heroes they can relate to.
    • Generation x through y don’t want to be “sold” on an idea—they are “spin-saavy.
  • Space Science Educational challenges:
    • Educators can rely less and less on museums and out of school programs as budgets get cut tighter and tighter.  There remains a need to have a strong STEM presence in all these areas.
    • Educators need tools as well as information.
    • NASA needs to take a look at its website and other avenues for sharing information.  It remains very hard to use.  There are established procedures for good use of information, and NASA could be using those protocols to reduce the width of distribution.
    • There are continued issues in the classroom with time being dictated to the minute, the high-stakes test remain the key challenge.
    • NASA and science jargon limit our abilities to communicate with our audiences.
    • There is a perception that education is not supported from the highest offices in NASA.

Afternoon  Small Group Breakout Discussion by Audiences Served: How can participants use and adapt existing lunar resources for respective audiences?

College Audience
First steps in addressing this audience are determining what young people are interested in knowing.  This could be done through freshman interest groups.  Educators need to deal with the audience’s cynicism and “geek perception”.

A main aspect is to liberate driving forces inside students:

  • Students need to see that they can contribute to history of space exploration.
  • Students should be able to study what they are personally interested in.

Educators need to find relevant reasons for students to become interested and involved; they need participation type projects.  Ideas include:

  • Inviting students to make stratigraphic maps themselves.
  • Have students make models of space probes.
  • Set up student internships.
  • Have students working in groups to give oral presentations on Moon.
  • Use the “Star Wars” theme to stimulate interest among students.
  • Use group debates to generate interest and compel research into the topic; for example, students could debate how Moon missions relate to our future economy.

Educators needs and challenges:

  • Faculty must update their teaching skills—they need to engage students more fully.
  • On-line courses may be needed.
  • Educators need space experts to provide leadership by making the case for lunar exploration.

Resources identified and discussed:

Informal-Public Arena Forum
Suggestions for successful engagement:

  • Use inquiry-based questions to show how much we don’t know, which leads to more questions.
  • Educate children in a way that is fun, not something to be endured.
  • Do address short attention spans, use new technologies to reach them.
  • Start young!
  • Be prepared to overcome misconceptions.

Mechanisms for engagement:

  • Use Simpsons/ Generation Y or relevant cartoon characters with kids
  • Conduct activities and perhaps create Earth science centers in libraries.
  • Conduct activities at Starbucks?
  • Podcasting—get info to their phone!
  • Star parties!  Partner with a local astronomical society. 
  • Educate them on other moons in Solar System
  • Use a student citizens forum: competition with responsible environmental approach
  • Create afterschool Moon clubs

K-12 Group: Elementary, Middle School, and Pre-Service
This audience is varied, and ranges from special needs and unmotivated-low achieving students, to those who are digitally-video-visual stimulated; motivated, high-achievers, classroom educators, and home school students.

Issues to be addressed:

  • Test/standards driven classroom
  • Plus the required time/ energy on space topics
  • Interdisciplinary needs

Methods for combining efforts

  • Replacement curriculum—include a Moon focus that is standards-aligned
  • Middle school interdisciplinary teaming
  • Teacher workshops
  • Teachers work collaboratively
  • Teachers and students working with scientists

Create thematic units by state and time length

  • Teachers would organize their content around a space theme; create their own Year of the Moon
  • Need a way to tie into TEKS that is easy for teachers to reference

Mechanisms for engagement:

  • Incorporate role models
  • Hold a competition
  • Collaborative projects
  • Borrow free material kits
  • Conduct interactive online labs/ podcasts
  • Invite a speaker to the classroom
  • Create a classroom experiment—a spin off from space exploration

New Media
Key words to describe ways to reach audiences using new media include: retool, dialogue, linking, participatory, and “greater than Apollo”

Types of new media efforts include

  • Cell phone plus
  • Texting
  • Podcasting—blogosphere
  • Social networking; content networking; peer-to-peer
    • Includes twitter, flicker, U tube, , Facebook, wiki,

Audiences are

  • Aggregations, content providers
  • Generic-global
  • K-12 (safety and security are an issue for this audience)
  • Parents—adult learners


  • Types of technology may be incompatible.
  • 509 access
  • The technology is evolving and changing constantly.
  • Schools’ access may be limited to certain companies; for instance, some only use United Streaming.

Mechanisms for engagement:

  • Competition
  • Multi-media event
  • Collaborative efforts
  • Web 7.0
  • Teacher tube
  • Next Gen conference

Other Moon resources available

  • NASA Cratering the Moon Challenge
  • Student / scientist data manipulation
  • Exploring the Moon
  • Lunar Samples disks
  • AESP—teacher professional development on the Moon
  • Cosmic Collision video
  • AMNH’s Fieldtrip to the Moon
  • Cartoons (Woody Woodpecker, Japanese animated series “Planetes”; for adults: “Moonlight Mile”)
  • American Manga (cartoon graphic novel) “Earthlight”
  • Future Pixar production (Wally-ee?)
  • Data for classroom use
  • Citizen-science experiments
  • “Google Moon” “Google Lunar XPrize”
  • teacher lunar exploration grants through AESP Penn State
  • Living & working in Space –Energy—apply to the Moon
  • Living & Working in Space—Habitat—apply to Moon
  • Miconceptions—private universe
  • Public podcasts 18-20 year olds (U Tube, HS)
  • Competitions—Mars Rover Quest
  • Materials—kits, equipment loans
  • Online—interactives, electronic field trips, podcast
  • Odyssey Clock—RCClarke—other fiction
  • Imagination “Mars Mission”

Last updated
July 18, 2008