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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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.


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.


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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Dr. Jeff is Doing a Webcast for Challenger Center for Space Science Education – Tune in Thursday April 29 at 1:00 pm EDT

 Posted by DrJeff on April 27th, 2010

 Copyright 2010  |  About this blog



Photo caption: Dr. Jeff after a Family Science Night for 600 kids, parents, and teachers. Pretty cool—kids want an autograph …. from an astrophysicist.


Now this should be a blast! My friend Rita Karl, Director of Education at Challenger Center for Space Science Education invited me to do a live webcast. Thanks Rita! It will give me an opportunity to present directly to classes lots of the stuff I’ve been doing here at the Blog. We really hope students across the U.S. and beyond might be able to tune in and get a deeper sense of their world in a greater space. I’ve also written up ideas for teachers on how to leverage the webcast with activities and lessons in the classroom.


For a description of what I’ll be talking about, information on how to tune in, and how to put this webcast to work in your classroom (or at home if you homeschool) check out the latest NCESSE News at the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education website.


See you Thursday!




Blog News October 19, 2009

 Posted by DrJeff on October 19th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog


A great deal has been happening at the Blog this past month, so I thought I’d give you an update.


MESSENGER Flyby of Mercury, and Ongoing Updates

through Orbital Insertion in March 2011

We had a great time at Mission Control covering the MESSENGER flyby of Mercury live via Twitter September 29 through October 1. Judging from the tens of thousands of page views that week, lots of folks were going along for the ride. Cool! That’s why we did it!


I recently put up a MESSENGER Updates Post which will be providing ongoing updates through MESSENGER’s orbital insertion at Mercury in March 18, 2011. If you’ve not seen the Post yet, you’ll be surprised at how many updates there are already, and the other cool resources provided there, including a play-by-play of the nail-biting in Mission Control when we lost signal from the spacecraft near close approach, and the Twitter Archives of us Voices of Mission Control which allow you to relive the experience. Note the MESSENGER Updates Post can always be accessed from the TMN QuickLinks Box at upper right. Over the next 18 months, you’re also invited to use the MESSENGER Ideas for Lessons in the Classroom, and Educational Resources Post which addresses the nature of human exploration, the exploration of the Solar System, and the exploration of Mercury, with powerful essays, activities, and lessons.


A Presentation on the Universe For Your School or Community?

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Powerful New BotU Teaching Resource: Teachable Moments in the News QUICK LINKS

 Posted by DrJeff on October 5th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog



Blog on the Universe is a rather unique science education blog. It is not a content aggregator. It is not a clearinghouse or listing for educational resources and products. It is not a science news outlet where posts are specifically dedicated to coverage of the latest news stories, and once the story is old, the post is no longer useable except as a matter of historical record. It’s true that one of the five flavors of posts here at the Blog is actually called Teachable Moments in the News. But I only use a news story as the “hook” and incentive to write a post that is enduring. For example, I used the space shuttle flight in May 2009 for the repair of the Hubble Space Telescope to ask the question: “Where is outer space?” (See The Business Trip.) It is a post that will never get old.


At BotU I’m working to create posts dedicated to the understanding of powerful concepts in the Earth and space sciences—concepts that are timeless, and are directly relevant to National Science Education Standards and AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy. My goal is to create a ‘library’ of ‘evergreen’ posts addressing a vast range of content—posts that will be as useable 5 years from now as they are today. I’ve even created a Teachers Lesson Planner where all the posts in this library are catalogued by subject, and a quick summary provides each post’s essential questions, concepts, learning objectives, required math skills, and special features. The idea is that each post can support a lesson in the classroom that powerfully addresses curricular requirements, and more importantly—helps teachers move science education away from the memorization of irrelevant facts, and toward: critical thinking, science as process owned by the student, and conceptual understanding. (For more on my goals for this Blog, read About this Blog. For more on science education in the classroom as a model of science, read The Power of Models.)


What’s very cool about creating such a library of posts is that whenever there is a high profile news story, I can pull posts off my library shelf to help teachers explain the concepts behind the story. The result is a means of bringing current science rapidly into the classroom—in a manner relevant to the curriculum. And instead of just reporting the “What, Why, When, and Where”, you can create a Teachable Moment in the News grounded in conceptual understanding at an emotional level.


So today I’m really happy to launch a powerful new capability at Blog on the Universe, with (as always) remarkable help from my friend Drew Roman at Decisive IT. You’ll notice the box at the top of the right column labeled “Teachable Moments in the News—Quick Links to Relevant BotU Posts” (TMN Quick Links). This is a place where I’ll list current stories in the news, or upcoming celebrations, along with the links to conceptually relevant Posts and also Resource Pages here at the Blog. The TMN Quick Links box is an easy way for you to put the library here at BotU to work for you and your students by leveraging—and in support of—exciting stories in the news!


For each BotU Post listed in the TMN Quick Links box, be sure to refer to its entry in the Teachers Lesson Planner for curricular connections, and how to put the Post to work for you.


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Powerful New Resource For Teachers – A BotU Lesson Planner

 Posted by DrJeff on September 3rd, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog


It’s a new school year, and teachers are going back to the classroom in tough times. I wanted to do something to help. I’ve missed some posts this week because I was concentrating on a new Blog on the Universe Resource Page titled Teacher’s Lesson Planner for BotU Posts.


I created this Blog with teachers and parents in mind. The goal for all Posts and Resource Pages is to provide a creative new way of looking at science—conceptual understanding at an emotional level. I write each post recognizing that if done well, teachers can use it as a lesson in the classroom.


The Lesson Planner is designed as a one-stop shop for teachers where they can look through a list of all posts, sorted by general category, e.g., climate change, or Solar System content, and for each post see the essential question, concepts addressed, learning objectives, math skills required, and any special features of that post. The Lesson Planner is designed to be a powerful entry point into the Blog’s content for all teachers—and parents. My hope is that it will allow the posts to be put to work to inspire and educate our children.


Here now is the Teacher’s Lesson Planner Page.  Let me know what you think!


Finally, our teachers need all the support we can give them. If you feel it appropriate, please pass on the following essay The Art of Teaching to teachers everywhere. I wrote it to inspire the new teacher, to reaffirm to the seasoned professional why we went into teaching in the first place … and to celebrate the joys and rewards of the teaching profession.


Teachers and parents are the link between the current generation and the next. Teaching is something that we as a species of explorers must cherish, for without it we could not stand on the shoulders of past generations and see to the current horizon of knowledge.


For hopefully a poetic view of how teaching fits within the larger landscape of human exploration, read the essay The Nature of Our Existence.


As always,

Dr. Jeff