AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 23. Outstanding Programs in Education and Public Outreach
Special Session Oral, Monday, June 4, 2001, 10:00-11:30am, C212-214

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[23.02] SOFIA EPO--Education Partnerships at 41,000 Feet

M.A. Bennett (Astronomical Society of the Pacific), E DeVore (SETI Institute)

SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, expected to begin operations in late 2004, represents a unique opportunity for education and public outreach (EPO). SOFIA is the first research observatory--airborne or ground-based--in which close participation by educators and journalists is being designed into both the physical facility and the administrative structure of the observatory. With the overall goal of contributing to the publicís awareness and understanding of science in general and astronomy in particular, the SOFIA EPO program will include formal K-12 and undergraduate educational activities, public outreach, and media relations.

One of the most exciting and unique aspects of the SOFIA EPO program is the observatoryís ability to carry up to 10 educators on science flights, enabling them to partner with scientists and see science in action. Some 200 formal and informal educators per year are expected to participate in the SOFIA Airborne Ambassadors program (SAAP). Educators who have participated in SAAP will be encouraged to continue their scientist partnerships and will be supported in their efforts to carry their new-found knowledge and enthusiasm to their students, other educators in their communities, and the general public.

SOFIA and SIRTF EPO are currently collaborating with Montana State University-Bozeman on the development of an on-line course aimed at working teachers which will concentrate on how to translate key concepts in IR and airborne astronomy into standards-based K-12 classroom activities.

Scientists, engineers, and other members of the SOFIA team will be encouraged to partner with local teachers and visit their classrooms as a part of the SOFIA Education Partners Program (SEPP). This program will enable students to interact with scientists and other professionals on a one-on-one basis. Participating educators may fly onboard SOFIA with their scientist partners. Scientists who participate in this program will be able to work with educators and students in their local communities to forge long-lasting science education partnerships.

The SOFIA EPO staff is interested in forming collaborations with interested organizations, other NASA missions, and individual astronomers. For more information please contact the authors.

SOFIA is being developed and will be operated for NASA by USRA. The EPO program is operated jointly by the ASP and SETI Institute.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.sofia.usra.edu. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: mbennett@aspsky.org

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