A New Opportunity for Your Students to Be Real Scientists on the International Space Station – (No We’re Not Sending Them into Orbit … Unless)

 Posted by DrJeff on November 23rd, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog



Click on the image and feel the magic. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio on EVA outside the International Space Station, August 15, 2007. Visit the NASA Human Spaceflight Image Gallery for more information.


Those of you following this blog know that a core philosophy I embrace is that science education—indeed all education—should be about exploration owned by the learner, and as teachers and parents our charge is to light their way. It is something I believe deeply.


I’ve had the distinct honor of sharing that philosphy this past year with thousands of educators at conferences, e.g., the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference. In order to reach an even wider audience, I’m grateful that John Boswell at Symphony of Science was able to turn my thoughts and words at NSTA into a music video We’ve Got to Be That Light. How he took a guy speaking in the front of an audience and turned it into something you’d want to upload to your music library is pretty magical. If you’ve not seen the music video yet, take a look. If you have seen it, and you’re a teacher that needs to decompress a bit over Thanksgiving and a shot in the arm before returning to work might help, take another look.


Those that preach have an obligation to put their words into practice. It’s the “put up or shut up” argument. If one complains about something, in this case the state of education, then either demonstrate a fix or don’t complain. So I’m listening … to myself. If education is about ownership in learning, then science education ought to be about ownership in science—experiences that allow students the ability to truly be scientists. And I firmly believe that if you give a 5th grader the ability to do real science, all you need do is gently guide, get out of the way … and be amazed.


So I created the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), a true STEM education initiative that is designed to immerse students in real science, and along the way, engage their entire community. In this context, there is another deeply held belief at work—it takes a community to educate a child and a network of communities to reach a generation.

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For the New School Year – Repost of the “Art Of Teaching” as a Personal Thank You to Teachers

 Posted by DrJeff on September 5th, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


Jordi (from Driving with Jordi fame) learning how to skate a few years ago. He could count on his dad. He showed me when I should lead, and when he needed me to get out of his way. Now they call him rocket man.


This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.


This essay “The Art of Teaching” was originally published April 15, 2009. I just revised it in support of the release of the music video  ‘We’ve Got to be That Light – A Gift For America’s Teachers”, which was the subject of the last post here at Blog on the Universe.


Let me know what you think of this essay! Leave a comment below or send me an email at jeffgoldstein@ncesse.org


-dr. jeff



So here’s a thought. Track down an old teacher
that meant the world to you and tell them just that.



It’s a new school year and teachers are now back in classrooms across America. During these tough times I wanted to write something that might help inspire the new teacher, reaffirm to the seasoned professional why we went into teaching in the first place, and recognize the remarkable gift that teachers in our lives give to us all.


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Music Video: We’ve Got To Be That Light – A Gift to America’s Teachers

 Posted by DrJeff on August 25th, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog




A heartfelt thank you to

teachers across America

for their unwavering dedication

to the next generation.


Teaching is the eternal bond between young and old that is at its heart—joy.







Symphony of Science Remix
Keynote Address “Science – It’s Not a Book of Knowledge … It’s a Journey”
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference
March 2011, San Francisco, CA


Dr. Jeff Goldstein, Center Director
National Center for Earth and Space Science Education


John Boswell
Symphony of Science



Is YouTube Blocked For You?
The video below is ported from YouTube, which is the best way to view it. But if you’re blocked from watching YouTube, you can download the video to your computer.
Download mp4 file (87.5 MB):



If this video moves you, and you have a desire to say how, you’re invited to leave a comment at the bottom of the page:)


Accompanying essay The Art of Teaching


Why We Made We’ve Got To Be That Light
America, what has happened to joyful learning for our children? Should that not be their birthright? What has happened to joyful teaching for our teachers? Have we as a nation lost sight of this noblest of professions, and its selfless calling?


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SSEP Mission 1 to the International Space Station: Historic Opportunity for Your School and District

 Posted by DrJeff on July 31st, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


Click on the image and feel the magic. The International Space Station (ISS) with Endeavour (STS-135) docked. 16 SSEP Experiments are aboard. ISS dwarfs Endeavour.


As Center Director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, I’m proud to share a new program opportunity for real student research in orbit—for students in your community. The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), which we launched in June 2010, saw 27 student-designed flight experiments on STS-134 and STS-135, the culmination of 31,000 students engaged, and 1,027 student team proposals for experiments. For the past month, we’ve been working hard to reconfigure the program for routine operations on America’s newest National Laboratory—the International Space Station. Today, we just announced the opportunity! I wanted to let folks know about it here, and invite you to think about this program for YOUR community:)




Sunday, July 31, 2011

Private Sector Effort Offers Real Research Opportunity for Grade 5-16 Students aboard International Space Station, 50,000 Expected to Participate


Next Phase of Bold New STEM Education Program that Attracted National Attention with Student Experiments on Final Flights of Shuttles Endeavour and Atlantis, and Provided Participation to 30,700 Students




SSEP is a keystone Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education program launched as a U.S. National initiative in June 2010. More broadly, SSEP is about a commitment to student ownership in exploration, to science as journey, and to the joys of learning. For school districts—even individual schools—it provides an opportunity to implement a systemic, high caliber, and historic STEM education program that is tailored to a community’s strategic needs in STEM education.


Deadline for Letters of Commitment from Interested Communities:
September 15, 2011


Jump to: SSEP MIssion 1 on the International Space Station Announcement of Opportunity


The SSEP on-orbit research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.


NASA Honors the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

 Posted by DrJeff on July 14th, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


Photocaption: Vehicle Asembly Building (VAB) during the final mission of the Space Shuttle program (STS-135).  Photo by Eric S. Ackerman. CLICK FOR ZOOM


This past year has been a humbling experience for me, the staff of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the thousands of students and teachers in the 27 communities participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). Enabled by a Space Act Agreement between NASA and NanoRacks, LLC, we’ve all had the adventure of a lifetime. We’ve had the distinct honor of being part of history, and part of the 30 year legacy of the United States Space Shuttle program. The Space Shuttle, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—both national treasures—stand for what is a fundamental regarding the nature of our existence—our need to know, to question, to push the boundaries of what is familiar, and to broaden our understanding of ourselves. Anyone witnessing the final Shuttle launch on July 8 at Kennedy Space Center (I was lucky enough) could not help but be overwhelmed by what we have done as a nation of spacefarers, and realize that the dawn of a new era is at hand. To all those that are participating in SSEP, you need to know that you are helping to blaze a trail into that new era, and there has been no bigger supporter of your achievements than NASA. With the 27 experiments aboard Endeavour and Atlantis, selected from over 1,000 student team proposals, you, the next generation, are the link between a celebrated past and a future in space exploration that is only now being written. And this remarkable journey we’ve been on together? It has really been about celebrating the past, embracing the present, and inspiring the future. Isn’t that what learning and exploration are all about?

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Stunning Video: Endeavour Docked at ISS – Aboard Her, 16 SSEP Student Experiments

 Posted by DrJeff on June 17th, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


Photocaption: Endeavour (STS-134) and ISS as seen by ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli in a Soyuz capsule.


We were eagerly awaiting Endeavour’s return to Earth on June 1. Student teams across the nation had experiments aboard. It was the culmination of a many months long process where 19,700 grade 5-12 students across America were given the opportunity to design experiments to be placed aboard Endeavour on her final flight, and they all felt like they were part of history.


It’s also been a very special program for me. It has been a labor of love (and one which has taken me away from another labor of love—this Blog.) I still remember sitting in that restaurant sketching out the program structure on a napkin. You know, napkins are pretty important tools for anyone who wants to craft vision. I suspect some of the greatest accomplishments of the human race started on napkins. I wouldn’t be surprised if John F. Kennedy one day sat down for lunch with his advisors and sketched out a plan to land a man on the Moon before the decade was out. Then that historic napkin was likely left on the table, and tossed in a trash can by an unsuspecting waiter. But I’m willing to bet there was a napkin.


Well Endeavour landed and there was euphoria in the participating communities. We even had a live video feed from the payload processing lab where technicians were harvesting the precious experiments (and we’ll have it again for the 11 experiments on STS-135.)


Then the stunning video below was broadcast to the world. I am so proud to say that aboard Endeavour in this video are the 16 experiments of Our Center’s Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). It offers a dramatic new perspective of this keystone U.S. National STEM education initiative that is engaging tens of thousands of grade 5-12 students in real science on orbit—their science.


Imagine watching this video, as a member of a 5th grade student team with your science experiment aboard Endeavour, that you designed, and it’s in orbit … right there! If that doesn’t inspire America’s next generation of scientists and engineers, and teachers of science across the nation, well, I’m not sure what will. And we’ve got 11 more experiments ready for launch on the final flight of Atlantis and of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program.

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Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Flight Teams on Final Space Shuttle Flight – ENTER LAUNCH PHASE

 Posted by DrJeff on June 8th, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


Photo Caption: SSEP Team from Galva-Holstein, Iowa


I wanted to share a major milestone on a program that I created a year ago, the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). Over 30,000 grade 5-12 students in 27 communities were given the opportunity to design REAL experiments to fly aboard the final two flights of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program, the flights of Endeavour and Atlantis. Over 1,000 student team proposals were received! And a formal 2-step review process de-selected to 27 experiments to fly—one for each of the 27 communities participating—with 16 on STS-134, and 11 on STS-135.


There has been a great deal of coverage by the media including featured articles at NASA.gov. Visit the SSEP In the News page to see the coverage.


Below is a message I just sent to the student teams flying on Atlantis in July. Again, I wanted to share:) You might also want to read the National Announcement of Selected Experiments.


And by the way, if any of your schools or school districts want to engage grade 5-12 students in REAL SCIENCE – REAL RESEARCH – we are about to announce the start of routine operations on the INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION. Let me know … if you are interested!


Finally, if you want to stay on top of breaking new on the SSEP and the flight of Atlantis, I’d like to invite you to subscribe to the SSEP National Blog. You subscribe in the lower right column on the SSEP Home Page.



From: Dr. Jeff Goldstein, SSEP National Program Director
Center Director, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education


To: America’s Next Generation of Scientists and Engineers Participating in SSEP on STS-135


To all SSEP student flight experiment teams, this is what you’ve been waiting for! We have now officially entered the SSEP Launch Phase for the final flight of the U.S. Space Shuttle program, and the historic flight of your experiments. Congratulations to all students, their teachers, their schools, their families, and their communities.


NCESSE has just received approval from NanoRacks and ITA for our proposed Critical Timeline for submission of your experiment samples (fluids and solids). We have therefore just put up the new STS-135 Submission of Experiment Samples for Flight page. You will see that the requirements for your submissions are precise and have critical deadlines. This is …. VERY REAL SCIENCE, and you are VERY REAL SCIENTISTS on this mission. We have also updated the main STS-135 Critical Timeline page to reflect sample submission milestones.


I am now advising you that you are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through holidays, and through Shuttle landing. This is VERY REAL …. (ok I said it already.)


To all Community Program Directors and Co-Directors on STS-134 and STS-135—that’s 27! communities across America— FIRE UP YOUR COMMUNITY BLOGS.  We will be showcasing all the active Community Blogs on this SSEP National Blog next week. In addition, if you have not already, consider having your community participate in the Student Voices of Mission Control (SVoMC) coverage of the final flight of Atlantis. Hopefully you can arrange for some students to work with you on this early in your summer break, so they can be part of history. We also strongly urge you to spread the word in your communities that anybody is invited to subscribe to this SSEP National Blog to get breaking news on SSEP and the launch of Atlantis.


This is also an appropriate time to honor and reflect on the legacy of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program. We have put together a Resource Page to do just that, and we will be updating it very soon for STS-135.


Finally, let me leave you with a favorite essay that I wrote last year which addresses the question: How will the next generation view the era of the space shuttle?


Keep your dreams alive …. always


The SSEP on-orbit research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.


Keynote Address: National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference, March 10-13, 2011, San Francisco

 Posted by DrJeff on February 2nd, 2011

 Copyright 2011  |  About this blog


At a time when it should be the birthright of all students to an education

that allows them to successfully enter the job markets of the 21st century…

At a time when America must inspire its next generation of scientists and

engineers if we as a nation are to compete in the technology markets

of the 21st century…


Are we rising to the challenge?


I have been asked to give the keynote address for the 2011 NSTA National Conference. There is no higher honor for a science educator than to be invited to address one’s peers at NSTA, and share both one’s love of learning and how it can be imparted to the next generation.


I am very aware that I’ve been asked to address possibly 10,000 teachers of science at a sobering time for both U.S. science education and the general education community. There is significant national emphasis being placed on science, and more generally STEM education, due to a recognition that our success is critical to America’s ability to compete in the 21st century marketplace. I agree deeply with this assessment (see , e.g., Troubled About America’s Future). Yet a significant systemic response has been to elevate testing to the point where one has to question whether testing still serves education, or education now serves testing. I am absolutely convinced that denying a joyful classroom to students AND teachers is not the road to success. And at this critical time for American education, there is a perfect storm. Severe budget cuts at the State and local levels have placed great stress on our school systems … and caused deep anxiety for our educators.


I believe the best thing I can do with this keynote, at a conference whose theme is Celebrating the Joy of Science, is to reaffirm that teaching is the noblest profession, that teachers are truly our future, and the joy of learning must always be the wellspring of our childrens’ experiences in our classrooms and our schools. And that the joy of teaching must always be the wellspring for all of our teachers who are so dedicated to passing a piece of themselves to the next generation.


We are a family … a family of educators. And in trying times, families come together so that the moral support of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. An NSTA conference is about family.


Finally, I need to repeat something that I said at the keynote for the NSTA Regional Conference in Kansas City last year. The future of America rests in our ability to train the next generation of scientists and engineers, make sure we open high technology job sectors that embrace graduates with good jobs, and work toward a more scientifically literate public so that we the people can make informed decisions. Science education is key, and the National Science Teachers Association provides coherence and common ground for this nation’s teachers of science. When it comes to America’s Future, I look upon NSTA as a national treasure.


Below is the full description of my keynote address for NSTA in San Francisco. And for anyone that would like to read more, I’ve provided numerous links to essays I have written on teaching, human exploration, and the nature of our existence.


I’ve also provided a link to a raft of posts that were designed to be used as lessons by teachers in the classroom. The aim is science education as conceptual understanding at an emotional level (read About this Blog.) And these essays address a range of topics across the Earth and space strand, including: climate change, solar system studies, history of exploration, and studies of the greater universe.


So … I invite you to grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and read some essays that I hope will provide brave new insights into our world, and how to joyfully bring them into the classroom. I also invite you, if you are so moved, to leave a comment below!


(And if you are going to NSTA in SF, come say hello:)



ps- you might want to follow me on Twitter: @doctorjeff and/or subscribe to this Blog on the Universe.



Keynote Address: Science – It’s Not a Book of Knowledge … It’s a Journey


Dr. Jeff Goldstein

Center Director

National Center for Earth and Space Science Education


Every parent remembers that magical time when our children first began to speak, that moment marking the beginning of an unending flow of questions. In our children we can see our humanity — our innate curiosity — and recognize the obvious … that we are born to explore!

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Tweetisms for the 21st Century – The Education Edition Part 2

 Posted by DrJeff on October 6th, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog


I liked the “In our classrooms …” series of Tweets on October 4 so much that I came up with a few more:)


I wanted to share—


In our classrooms, the experience should mirror the interdisciplinary nature of life, and not the subject of the hour. 

In our classrooms, the joys of learning should wash over student AND teacher. 

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Tweetisms for the 21st Century – The Education Edition

 Posted by DrJeff on October 5th, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog


Hi all-


I’m now back from the intensity of months spent creating and launching the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), with 25,000 students across the U.S. now designing real experiments to fly aboard the second to last Space Shuttle flight, STS-134, the flight of Endeavour in February 2011. Pretty cool, huh. The SSEP is designed to provide regular student access to SPACE for grades 5-12, and leverage that exciting opportunity across entire school districts. SSEP embraces the notion of STUDENT AS SCIENTIST.


A big favor to ask—PLEASE help us spread the word on the SSEP via your social networks. We want to make sure that the nation knows about this bold new national STEM education initiative. If you’re on Twitter, here are two Tweets you can just cut and paste!


UPDATE: Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Now in Full Swing, GO FOR LAUNCH – http://ssep.ncesse.org


How do you get kids excited about #science? LET THEM *BE* SCIENTISTS. And why not on the #SPACE SHUTTLE. http://ssep.ncesse.org #nasa


Speaking of Twitter, and to help me ease back into Blog on the Universe, below is a steady stream of consciousness on education that I unleashed on my PLN (Personal Learning Network) last night (October 4, 2010). I thought I’d share. If you’re a Tweep, by all means feel free to Re-Tweet any and all to your PLN. And if you think Twitter is not about education, and really just for folks that want to broadcast what they had for lunch (I call them lunchies), read my post at Huffington Post titled The Remarkable Power of Twitter—A Water Cooler for the 21st Century. I think it does a great job of providing a real understanding of social media for education, and the means by which these online environments allows us to reach out in meaningful ways to the world.


One review: “Kudos, Jeff. This is one of the best posts about Twitter I’ve read in a long time. You really describe it well, especially the best that it has to offer.”


Here now my Tweets last night—


In our classrooms, let’s not lecture, but instead, entice the gift of a question. #education #teacher #science #school

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