Exhibits, planetarium shows, and community-based programming are among 18 projects NASA has selected to receive agency funding in 2012.
The projects consist of 11 informal education providers and seven NASA visitor centers that will share $10 million in grants through NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums Plus Opportunities for NASA Visitor Centers and Other Informal Education Institutions.
Project topics will feature NASA missions in engineering, astronomy, human spaceflight, aeronautics, technology, and Earth science. The selected projects will partner with NASA’s Museum Alliance, a nationwide network of informal education professionals at more than 500 museums, science centers, planetariums, NASA visitor centers, Challenger centers, visitor centers at observatories and parks, nature centers, aquariums and zoos.
“Informal education providers are an important part of NASA’s education family,” said Leland Melvin, associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Education in Washington. “By using compelling NASA content, they help us stimulate interest in science, technology, engineer and mathematics, or STEM. Increasing STEM literacy in students today is key to having the talent NASA will need to embark on future missions of science and discovery.”
Projects selected in this year’s program will engage learners of all ages, as well as educators who deliver formal or informal STEM education. The projects will produce NASA-inspired educational opportunities, including planetarium shows, exhibits, community-based programming, and other hands-on activities.
In conjunction with NASA’s Museum Alliance, the grants focus on NASA-themed space exploration, aeronautics, space science, Earth science, microgravity or a combination of themes. Some projects will include partnerships with elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, as well as with community-based organizations.
The museums, science-technology centers, and planetarium selected for project funding are located in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. The eleven grants have a maximum five-year period of performance, and range in value from approximately $370,000 to $857,000.
The selected NASA visitor centers are located in Alabama, California, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. The seven visitor center projects have a maximum five-year period of performance and range in value from approximately $200,000 to $900,000. Proposals were selected through a merit-based, peer-reviewed process from the 63 proposals received. Institutions from 30 states and the District of Columbia competed. NASA’s Office of Education, agency mission directorates and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory collaborated to solicit and review the grant applications. This integrated approach distinguishes NASA’s investment in education from other federal grant makers. Before new grants or cooperative agreements are issued, selected institutions must complete required business and policy review by working with the NASA Shared Services Center in Mississippi.
Congress established the inaugural Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums in 2008. NASA will open the fourth competition for new proposals in fiscal year 2013.
For a list of selected organizations and projects descriptions, visit http://go.nasa.gov/NKC2V0.