Taking Outreach to New Heights with SOFIA

Friday, 19 December 2014
Randi Wold-Brennon, Hui Malama at Hawaii Academy of Arts & Sciences PCS, Pahoa, HI, United States and Jo Dodds, Twin Falls School District, Twin Falls , ID, United States
NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission conducts an Education and Public Outreach program that leverage the unique attributes of the world's largest airborne observatory. After reaching a series of milestones, SOFIA achieved Full Operational Capability (FOC) in May, 2014, equivalent to a launch in the space telescope world. Still in early stages, the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) effort aspires to improve teaching, inspire students, and inform U.S. communities by incorporating educators into the crew, where they fly to the stratosphere and engage with scientists and mission specialists. The program's 55 Ambassadors, selected through a highly competitive national call for applications, flew aboard the aircraft during 3 science phases of observatory operations. These dedicated educators not only incorporate content knowledge and specific components of their experience into their curricula and education programming, they also appear and present at events in their communities. Their efforts to date have impacted thousands. During the presentation, SOFIA Ambassadors will overview this national program, share experiences during flight weeks, and present the spectrum of successful outreach efforts implemented.

Outcomes: Participants will obtain updates on the SOFIA AAA program, receive information on the future of this national program, and benefit from examples of using authentic science experiences to improve professional practices.