The Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) Education and Outreach (E/PO) Program
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- Peticolas, L.M., Craig, N., Odenwald, S.F. et al. Space Sci Rev (2008) 141: 557. doi:10.1007/s11214-008-9458-5
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During the pre-launch phase of NASA’s THEMIS mission, the Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) program successfully brought the excitement of THEMIS to the public, students and teachers through a variety of programs. The Geomagnetic Event Observation Network by Students (GEONS) was the main effort during this time, a project in which 13 magnetometers were placed in or near 13 rural schools across the country. High school teachers and a few middle school teachers at these and/or neighboring schools took part in a long-term professional development program based around space science and the magnetometer data. The teachers created week-long to semester-long projects during which their students worked on THEMIS lessons that they, their colleagues, and the E/PO team created. In addition to this program, THEMIS E/PO also launched the only Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) Great Explorations in Mathematics and Science (GEMS) site in Nevada. This site provides a sustainable place for teacher professional development using hands-on GEMS activities, and has been used by teachers around the state of Nevada. Short-term professional development for K-12 teachers (one-hour to two-day workshops), with a focus on the Tribal College and Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) communities have reached hundreds of teachers across the country. A Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) ViewSpace show on auroras and THEMIS was created and distributed, and shown in over a hundred science centers and museums nationwide. The THEMIS E/PO program developed and maintained a THEMIS E/PO Website for dissemination of (1) information and multimedia about the science and engineering of THEMIS, (2) updated news about the mission in language appropriate for the public, (3) the GEONS data, the GEONS teacher guides with classroom activities, and (4) information about the THEMIS E/PO program. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have viewed this website. In this paper, we describe these programs along with the evaluation results, and discuss what lessons we learned along the way.