NASA Crowns 16 Educators as Hubble 'Top Stars'

30 June 2010 | News story

Sciene educators are Hubble "Top Stars" in a NASA-sponsored contest conducted by CEC member Nancy Colleton's Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.

A planetarium show, student-authored wiki pages and a card game are among the entries selected as Top Stars in the fourth and final round of a NASA-sponsored contest that invited U.S. formal and informal educators to submit their best examples of using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in science, technology, engineering or mathematics education.

The Showcase section of the Top Stars Web site includes downloadable materials from all Hubble activities selected as Top Stars. The Top Stars contest is conducted by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) in cooperation with the Space Telescope Science Institute. Submissions were accepted from individuals and from teams of up to four members, and included any combination of text, graphics, video and photos.

"The variety, creativity and high quality of these materials are excellent examples of how Hubble and its images have inspired the creation of effective and diverse education products for all grade levels," said Bonnie McClain, NASA Hubble education plan co-lead.

And the winners are...

Keith Turner, a teacher at Carmel High School in Carmel, Ind., earned Top Stars honors with his final project for a grades 10-12 astronomy or Earth/space science course. The project challenges students to identify and explain stellar properties of a constellation and present their findings on a planetarium dome.

"Hubble has been a way for me to share the process of science with students, and how discovery generates new questions and unexpected results," said Turner, who was turned on to astronomy at a young age. "By the time I was 8, I had a small telescope I would look at the moon with. In sixth-grade I had a fabulous science teacher... who was passionate about astronomy. He took our class to the nearby... planetarium, and I was hooked."

One winning entry -- a planetarium show, created by informal educators AmyJo Proctor, Ron Proctor and Stacy Palen at Weber State University's Ott Planetarium in Ogden, Utah, and viewable online -- introduces the electromagnetic spectrum and multi-wavelength observation with images from Hubble and other space telescopes. Audiences learn how images are captured and what the colors tell us about the composition of deep-sky objects.

"Many planetarium show producers try to reproduce Great Observatory observations with 3D models instead of using the actual images -- these, while often lovely, fall flat because they are missing the scientific content and honesty that could be so inspiring to their audiences," the team wrote in its entry submission form. "We have developed techniques to give these 2D images a 3D feel, transforming the planetarium dome into a window on 3D space."

Another trio -- researchers Stephanie Slater, Timothy Slater and Daniel Lyons at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo., who work to improve the quantity and quality of astronomy teaching -- were recognized as Top Stars for a series of research-based lessons that use the Hubble Deep Field image to engage and educate undergraduate students not majoring in science. As part of the lessons, students generate their own research questions and investigate the characteristics and distribution of galaxies.

 

About the Hubble Space Telescope:The thousands of stunning images captured by Hubble since its launch 20 years ago have made possible numerous breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe, and thanks to a recent servicing mission Hubble is expected to live on through at least 2014.

About IGES: Located in Arlington, Va., IGES was established in 1994 and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supported by public and private entities. IGES is a trusted leader in Earth and space science education, communication and outreach, and in fostering national and international cooperation in observing the Earth.

For more information, contact Dan Stillman, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, dan_stillman@strategies.org