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Astronomy and Aerospace Showcase 2012

(Session summary by Sean Smith, ASTC’s Director of Government and Public Relations)

In the first of what will be a number of sessions with a U.S. federal agency angle, Mike Shanahan (Bishop Museum, Honolulu) moderated the “Astronomy and Aerospace Showcase 2012,” which featured 10 panelists, including representatives from NASA facilities (Marshall Space Flight Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory), ASTC-member science centers (Bishop Museum, Pacific Science Center, the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, and Adler Planetarium) and other institutions (Digitalis Education Solutions, Space Telescope Science Institute).

Panelists highlighted a variety of exciting new information and opportunities, including updates on the latest on upcoming space flights and the present and future of planetarium shows—like how to involve teens and younger children in astronomy and planetarium programming. Attendees were also provided with a detailed overview of NASA-related resources available to science centers and museums. Many ASTC members are already involved with the NASA Museum Alliance, but did you know that a Mars rover will be available for earth-bound travel to science centers and museums beginning next year? How about that through NASA’s artifacts program, you can gain access to flight-flown NASA hardware, materials, and garments, and even make inexpensive additions to your permanent collections? In addition, science centers can now receive Space Shuttle tiles and space food, which were both previously unavailable through the program. To date, more than 6,179 artifacts have been allocated, including 222 here in Ohio. For more information, visit gsaxcess.gov/nasawel.htm.

During the session, NASA announced the launch of a new website, www.nasawavelength.org, which will serve as an online repository for NASA resources for earth and space science education. The site, created in partnership with the Lawrence Hall of Science, serves as a digital library for resources developed through funding of the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD), all of which have undergone a peer-review process through which educators and scientists ensure the content is accurate and useful in an educational setting. ASTC members can use NASA Wavelength to quickly and easily locate resources, connect them to other websites using atom feeds, and even share the resources you discover with others through social media and email.

ASTC Annual Conference attendees are encouraged to visit the NASA Exhibit Hall Booth (#728), for educational materials, DVDs, high-resolution images for download (plus the ever-popular tattoos and stickers), and everyone is encouraged to learn more via the NASA website, www.nasa.gov.

While you’re online, be sure to follow-up on International Observe the Moon Night (www.observethemoonnight.org), which was also highlighted during the session and will next take place on October 12, 2013. ASTC members are encouraged to get involved and to help get their visitors excited about lunar science and exploration. International Observe the Moon Night happens every year, and anyone can host an event; the website has great materials for hosts, including fliers, activity ideas, etc.