So You Want To Know What I Talk About

 Copyright 2011 | About this blog



Dr. Jeff Goldstein, Center Director

National Center for Earth and Space Science Education

PO Box 2350

Ellicott City, MD 21041-2350


Program Director:

Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

Voyage National Program

Journey through the Universe

NASA MESSENGER Educator Fellowship Program

Family Science Night at the National Air and Space Museum

To Earth and Beyond

Send an email.

Jeff Goldstein’s CV on LinkedIn:

Comprehensive bio on this website:


“Dr. Jeff  was excellent—inspiring, motivating, full of passion,


—Middle School Science Teacher

Kansas City Missouri School District

On this page you’ll find descriptions of presentations I give to diverse audiences—students, families, teachers (at conferences and workshops), and the general public. My aim is to help weave education and learning into the fabric of a community, with parent and child, student and teacher, exploring the majesty of the Universe together. Read some of the feedback from audiences.

Hallmarks of presentations:

• audience engagement & participation, conceptual understanding, inspiration

• customized to address key specific topics and objectives of event organizers

Audience size:

• typically large, and no limit

• often a program for an entire community

Pedagogy, Objectives, and Logistics:

My programs are patterned after those provided through the Journey through the Universe initiative of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. I am the Center’s Director. The following links to key Journey through the Universe web pages provide an understanding of the pedagogical approach, objectives, and logistics for my programs:


Family and Public Programs
Family and Public Program Assessment Data and Analysis

Professional Development Workshops for Grade K-12 Teachers
Curriculum Modules for the Workshops
Workshop Assessment Data and Analysis

School Visits (Classroom & Auditorium)
Classroom Visit Assessment Data and Analysis

Professional Development Workshops for Teachers:

I have given well over 100 half-day to 2-day workshops, but these are not described in the list of presentations below. Each workshop is customized to content, grade level(s), and workshop objectives. A library of agendas for past workshops is available.


• Keynote, Featured, or Dinner Talk for a Conference or Convention

• Public or Family Program

• Keynote for a Graduating Class

• Guest Speaker for a University Non-Science Major Class

• Guest Speaker for a University Science Methods Class

• Talk for a Business, Civic, or Community Group

A Voyage that will Forever Change Your Perspective of Home

When we venture beyond our home and explore a greater landscape—whether it’s the town beyond our house, or a planet beyond the Earth—we gain a deeper sense of our own existence.It’s a fundamental principle of exploration.To truly know and appreciate our home, we must leave it.So to truly know and appreciate a place called Earth, we must venture beyond it, and recognize the breadth and majesty of a greater universe.

From another vantage point—we are integrally connected to the universe, and it to us—so to know the universe is to know ourselves.And while we may seem small in its shadow, beauty has nothing to do with size—for the universe is revealed with something the size of the human mind.

You’re invited to the story of our existence—a race of explorers, 6 billion tiny souls strong.It is a story that ignites wonder about the universe, and a sense of pride in our ability to reveal its nature through both human imagination and ingenuity.It is a story that humbles us, and brings a sense of humility to our lives.It is a voyage that will forever change your perspective of home.

Focus:inspiration to young and old—a wonderful family program; understanding the nature of our existence using the power of models

Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Present, and Inspiring the Future

We live in a moment in time.It’s the place where the accomplishments of those that came before us meet up with what will be undertaken by future generations.It’s a great place to be, especially if you’re part of the future generation.By learning about the past both in terms of what we know and howwe’ve come to know it, and talking to those that work on the frontiers right now, you can choose to shape the future.It’s pretty powerful stuff.You are the link between the past and the future.

Focus:inspiration for students

How Big is Big?

It’s a big, often intimidating universe out there.How do we even begin to fathom objects and distances that dwarf anything we’ve ever experienced?You might memorize all the facts and figures—our galaxy possesses 100 billion stars, our Sun is 93,000,000 miles away.But where’s the learning?The numbers are big, impersonal—even irrelevant.Alternately, you might construct a simple world model with Earth, our Sun, some neighboring planets and stars adrift in an endless ocean of space.But both approaches do a disservice to the majesty of the cosmos.

Earth’s place in space is knowable in a tangible way—even for elementary school students.The secret is placing the universe in a context that is familiar.You’re not convinced? Come and take this magical journey from spaceship Earth to points unknown.I promise when we come back home you’ll feel the words of T.S. Eliot:“…and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

Focus:a conceptual understanding of the universe through the power of models

From Spaceship Earth—A Window on the Universe

How would you like to be an astronaut—a space explorer hurtling through space aboard a fantastic spaceship?Through the ship’s great window, you would see the unimaginable—bizarre and alien planets, blazing stars borne from vast clouds of dust and gas, holes in space consuming anything coming their way,massive stars exploding in a cataclysm of light and heat, and galaxies—each holding a hundred billion suns—swirling like great hurricanes in space.

Why wait for the 24th century?Just go out on a clear night, find a grassy spot, lay down—and look to the heavens.The sky is your Window on the Universe, and the fantastic spaceship?It’s under your feet.

Come explore the creatures of the night as seen by the most powerful telescopes on Earth, in orbit, and by robots sent to other worlds.Join Dr. Jeff on a ride to the stars.

Focus: a close look at planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe on the largest scale

Human Exploration—the Journey Continues

A wondrous look at who we are as a species and what drives us to the great frontiers.

Throughout history, humans have been space explorers.For thousands of generations we have looked to the sky and wondered about our place in the cosmos.Yet it was only 400 years ago that we first improved our view with telescopes.And only within the last 40 years have we become true spacefarers, able to travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere with robots and humans.

Standing on the shoulders of past generations, we have done remarkable things in our time.On July 20, 1969 we walked on the Moon.Today, peoples of the world are working together to build a space station—a research laboratory placed 200 miles above the surface of our world. Through the eyes of robots we’ve seen sunset on Mars, volcanoes erupting on a moon of Jupiter, and the awesome majesty of Saturn’s rings.With telescopes on the ground and in space we have seen the birth of other suns, found solar systems beyond our own, and have traveled back in time to see the universe as it was billions of years ago.We humans have even sent four spacecraft beyond Pluto en route to the stars with greetings from Earth aboard.Look what we have done!

Join Dr. Jeff on a journey to the frontiers of flight in air and space to see how far we’ve come and what awaits the next generation!

Focus: the nature of human exploration; history of space exploration

Saying Hi to E.T. on a Planet Far, Far Away

The next night you are far from city lights, and the sky is clear, look up and give yourself a chance—to be in awe.Then ask a simple question—one asked by countless generations of those like you that stopped to look heavenward—”Are we alone?”

We now know enough about the universe and the nature of life—and have the technology—to seek an answer.If our radio waves, moving at the speed light, now bathe thousands of star systems with everything from I Love Lucy to Charlie Rose, then right now we may be bathed in signals from another intelligence.In concept it’s simple—point the radio telescope, tune to the right channel, and have a means of discerning a non-natural signal.But where do you point, to which channel do you tune, and how do you tell it’s an intelligent signal?In fact what dictionary would you call upon?The challenge is remarkable, and success would be profound—for it would change us, all of us.

Focus:astrobiology, communication

The Art of Science

[specifically for educator conferences. Version 1: with focus on classroom implementation]

Science is an art.It’s about asking the right questions, framing a pathway to an answer, and reveling in seeing something new.In fact science is often not about the knowledge at the end of the road but the act of getting there.Knowing that you’ve been able to pull back the veil of nature a little, and see how she operates, feels wonderful.Knowing that you’ve empowered yourself to take this journey is remarkably gratifying.This is science!But this is also what science facilitation in the classroom is supposed to be in light of the National Science Education Standards.The talk will provide very insightful approaches to the process of science in the classroom.Using the power of models we will look at various levels of exploration from experiential to hands-on to inquiry-based learning, all required for science in the classroom, but still missing a truly magical ingredient.What’s missing?Come to the talk, you won’t be disappointed!

The Art of Science

[specifically for educator conferences. Version 2: with focus on process]

Science is an art, and researchers are artists. Fundamental to science research is the explorer’s ability to ask questions, frame a pathway to an answer, and interpret what they find. This requires a deep understanding of core knowledge, which includes both core factual information and key concepts. It also requires an artists approach to critical thinking, where finely honed skills over time allow you to see a possible pathway from question to answer through the complex noise of the universe around us. This describes a process by which we can explore. It is the application of this process by the scientist or engineer that is the art.

Absolutely fundamental to an understanding of: core factual information and key concepts; the means to frame a possible pathway to an answer; and interpreting what one has found, is finding ways to relate this core knowledge, process, and new knowledge to what is familiar. That is the function of models, and there are many different flavors of them. Put another way—models are arguably the most powerful tools in an explorer’s toolbox.













How Big is Big?

It‘s a big, often intimidating universe out there. How do we even begin to fathom objects and distances that dwarf anything we’ve ever experienced? Earth’s place in space is knowable. The secret is placing the universe in a context that is familiar. Take a magical journey from spaceship Earth to points unknown.

Focus: understanding the universe using the power of models

An Expedition to the Top of the World

[Dr. Jeff’s research]

See what it’s like to be a scientist on a research expedition to the top of the world in the pacific. It’s about an expedition to one of the largest telescopes on Earth, atop 14,000 ft Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawaii. The mission: measure winds on other worlds!

Focus:the nature of scientific research

Fifty of Your Very Own

Look up on a starry night far from city lights. What you’re seeing is but a tiny portion of the Milky Way, our home galaxy. Our Milky Way is a vast and swirling mass of 300,000,000,000 suns, enough to give 50 to every person on Earth! Come explore the different neighborhoods of the Milky Way, and gain an understanding of our home world’s place among the stars.

Focus: the universe beyond the solar system

Saying Hi to E.T. on a Planet Far, Far Away

Wouldn’t it be cool to talk to an alien?It’s not as far out as you might think.Right now a ‘hello’ from E.T. may be passing through your body as a radio signal! We might just need to point an antenna in the right direction, tune to the right channel, and listen in!That’s exactly what’s we’re doing around the world.

Focus: astrobiology, communication

Asteroids and Comets!

Look up in the sky–it’s a bird, it’s a plane–why no it’s a rock.A big rock!And wasn’t that a snowball the size of city that just flew by?Take a ride aboard an armada of spacecraft and visit some of the asteroids and comets in the Solar System.Chef Jeff will also be along to cook up a comet just for fun!

Focus: small bodies of the solar system

The Martians are Coming!

Is it another movie coming to a theater near you?No, but it wouldn’t be surprising.In science fiction land, the bad aliens seem to have a home base on the Red Planet, with critters from Mars invading or attacking our world over the last 100 years.Now many of our spacecraft are invading their world.Let’s explore together the history of possible life on Mars from Percival Lowell’s canals (circa 1890), to H.G. Wells’ and Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds, to the Viking Landers’ search for life on the surface of Mars in 1976, to the current excitement over the red planet. (Maybe I should have called this program The Earthlings are Coming?)

Focus:history of planetary exploration; astrobiology

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

Did you ever wonder how a camera creates a photograph? Did you ever stop to think about the enormous amount of information a single photograph contains? We can even take pictures in flavors of light that our eyes cannot see!  We explore our entire universe through images. We’ve even sent cameras to other planets. Let’s use images of the planets through history to explore what we can learn through imaging science.

Focus:imaging technology used for scientific research


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