Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is providing science afterschool programming important?
Young people spend a large percentage of their time out of school and many of them do so in unstructured and unsupervised ways. Many state governments and community-based organizations are investing in afterschool programming. It has also been shown that low income and underserved minorities are enrolled in afterschool programs in greater percentages than the general population. Afterschool programs thus often reach those who most need additional help and can be offered in a variety of settings where the students go when the school day is over.
Given the constraints faced by classrooms today, the afterschool setting offers an opportunity to teach students science in a fun and flexible setting. For their part, the afterschool community is looking for quality science programming that will engage the children but not feel like additional school work.
- Why is this program targeted at middle school students?
There are several reasons for choosing the middle school audience. Middle school students are fascinated by the Universe outside the solar system but rarely have an opportunity to explore this interest. Students, especially girls, form attitudes about science in middle school and hence represent a critical stage at which to retain their interest in science. Most of the programming developed on these topics is aimed at high school and given the complexity of some of the topics, it is not practical to distill it down any further than middle school.
- Why are you supporting only out-of-school-time (OST) programs?
NASA has developed several high-quality programs and products for the classroom environment that are widely available and well-supported. We have adapted those materials for the OST environment in developing this program. As we have limited resources and personnel support to offer those who wish to run this program, we are focusing on the audience the program was primarily developed for. Furthermore, NASA requires us to report on the impact and efficacy of our programming. As this program has been developed as an OST project, we need to work with OST program providers to implement the program and provide us with this data.
- Can I run this for other audiences?
The program is freely available to anyone. However, it has been developed specifically for a middle school audience in out-of-school-time programs, and has been tested and evaluated with only this audience.
- Are you offering any financial support?
We are unable to offer any financial support towards the implementation of this program. All online resources are free of cost, as are some training workshops. However, participants are responsible for the purchase of materials required to implement the program, and for any travel expenses associated with trainings.
- How do I find a scientist to come visit my group?
Physics and astronomy departments at local universities are a good place to start if you don't know any local scientists. Some companies, such as Raytheon, ITT, Hughes, and Boeing, might also have programs related to space technology. They will mostly employ engineers rather than scientists, but this may be a good option if you are unable to find a local scientist. Session 11 in the manual also provides some additional tips for setting up a scientist/engineer visit.