Terra Education and Public Outreach supports many well-established projects and some newer projects, engaging multiple audiences through collaboration with other missions and partners.
Terra was launched in December of 1999 as the EOS flagship observatory. Terra's suite of five instruments provides systematic comprehensive global quantitative measurements of Earth's atmosphere, land, cryosphere, and oceans. Terra's primary purpose is to enable the science community to address fundamental questions in Earth science as articulated in the 2014 Science Plan for NASA's Earth Science Mission Directorate under the overarching question, "How is Earth changing and what are the consequences for life on Earth?" In this context, Terra provides 77 high quality, calibrated and validated core data products necessary for climate and Earth Science studies. Terra data also satisfy the increasing operational agency demand for hazards assessment and mitigation.
As outlined in the 2014 Earth Science Division Senior Review of the Terra mission, the primary objectives of the ongoing Terra mission revolve around extending the baseline for important climate and environmental data records needed to detect long-term change, gaining a greater scientific understanding of climate forcings and feedbacks, particularly in relation to aerosols and clouds, and providing emergency data for disasters and national security.
Like Terra's science, the mission's education and public outreach strategy covers all six of NASA's Earth science focus areas—atmospheric composition, weather, climate variability and change, water and energy cycle, carbon cycle and ecosystems, and Earth surface and interior—through three tiers of products and programs based on these science themes. At the top level are outreach products designed to inspire and inform through images and science stories. Outreach programs include regularly updated web features, participation in a public awareness campaign (Know your Earth), and interactive material for public events. Terra's role in providing emergency data is most strongly highlighted through web-based assets like the Earth Observatory.
The second tier of Terra education and public outreach programs encourage a deeper level of interaction with Terra science. These programs provide packaged Terra science stories and images to informal educators to give museums and afterschool programs the tools they need to teach Earth System Science. Tier two programs include Immersive Earth planetarium story-telling kits, Science on a Sphere story packages, and a student video competition targeted at after-school programs.
The third tier of Terra education and public outreach gives targeted audiences opportunities to interact directly with Terra data or contribute to Terra science. Students analyze data through My NASA Data and the NOVA Cloud Lab. TerraLook provides easy access to current Terra data for nonscientists, particularly policy makers and land managers. Informal educators have access to regularly updated Terra images they can integrate into displays and programs through the NASA Earth Observations (NEO) site. Students and citizen scientists collect observations that contribute directly to Terra science through the S'COOL program and SatCam, an iPhone application.
Most programs at all three levels are collaborative, pulling in science and images from other NASA missions. Several of the programs that Terra participates in, including Know your Earth, Science on a Sphere, and the student video contest, are managed by other missions. Other programs—NOVA Cloud Lab, SatCam, TerraLook—are managed by partner organizations with contributions from the Terra mission.
- Earth Observatory: inspire and inform through images and science stories. Terra provides images and stories and Terra's role in providing emergency data is most strongly highlighted.
- Website features: terra.nasa.gov provides an area for the general public as well as scientists to educate themselves on Terra's science and data as well as access educational materials. This is done in collaboration with the science community and news resources.
- Know your Earth: public awareness campaign run in collaboration with the office of communications and at least 22 different missions. Each mission provided a scientist to feature during Earth Month.
- Immersive Earth planetarium story-telling kits: encourage a deeper level of interaction with Terra science providing packaged Terra science stories and images to informal educators to give museums and after-school programs the tools they need to teach Earth System Science through small planetariums, interactive presentations and classroom activities. This program is focused on bringing NASA Earth Science to rural communities and small schools that may not have access to museums or large planetariums. It is being evaluated and technically advised through the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota.
- Science on a Sphere story packages: encourage a deeper level of interaction with Terra science providing packaged Terra science stories and images to informal educators to give museums the tools they need to teach Earth System Science on Science on a Sphere. Each partner- each mission EPO - provides images, stories, access to scientists and helps craft the final story packages. Partnerships vary from year to year depending on the subject that is being covered that year and it's pertinence to the mission.
- Student Video Competition (ReelScience Communication Challenge): targeted at after-school programs to encourage a deeper level of interaction with Terra science for students. This is done is collaboration with Aura and Aqua EPO and this year was the pilot year. Each partner provides resources for students to use and identifies partnerships with scientists to serve as mentors for the students developing the videos. Aura EPO is the lead on this program.
- My NASA Data: Students analyze, interacting directly with Terra data. This program is primarily run out of LARC.
- NOVA Cloud Lab (Under development with NOVA): Students analyze data giving targeted audiences opportunities to interact directly with Terra data and contribute to Terra science. NOVA is developing and hosting this program, developing it through guidance from Terra EPO.
- TerraLook: provides easy access to current Terra data for nonscientists, particularly policy makers and land managers.
- NASA Earth Observations (NEO) site: Informal and formal educators have access to regularly updated Terra images they can integrate into displays and programs.
- S'COOL program: Students collect observations that contribute directly to Terra science. This program is run primarily out of LARC.
- SatCam: an iPhone application where citizen scientists collect observations that contribute directly to Terra science. This was created in partnership with the University of Wisconsin and operates through the University of Wisconsin.
See additional metrics under impacts, e.g., Immersive Earth has reached approximately 700 students this year without the Boston Team's pilot scheduled for later this year, which will reach approximately 200 students.
Effectiveness and Impact
Evaluation findings and impact statements:
Terra EPO does a number of specialized evaluations depending on the program that is being evaluated. Programs such as the Earth Observatory, the Terra website and other web-based programs rely heavily on analytics. Google analytics are used with terra.nasa.gov to determine reach, audience, effectiveness, etc. The Earth Observatory runs their own analytics and Terra pulls from their data to inform the effectiveness and reach of contributing.
Other programs that are primarily run by other centers, missions or partners are evaluated by those institutions and the evaluation is passed on to the partners to evaluate effectiveness and reach. With other programs where Terra EPO is more intimately involved, first a needs assessment is conducted, followed by a formative assessment and finalized with a summative assessment. Immersive Earth is in this category. The Terra PI has worked closely with the Bell Museum and the University of Minnesota throughout this process. The project is currently in the formative assessment stage.
Most evaluation projects are in progress, therefore the final or summative evaluations are not yet available. Many evaluations including analytics on terra.nasa.gov were implemented less than a year ago and findings are not yet conclusive.
For established evaluations that are primarily conducted by Terra EPO, findings are determined from the formative evaluations and needs assessments as well as from the findings of product review. Each program is constantly being monitored and adjusted to adjust for the shortfalls demonstrated through evaluation. For example, Immersive Earth evaluation conducted by Emily Dare at the Bell Museum through the University of Minnesota has evaluated the Immersive Earth program and has determined the following from the most recent pilot programs: "I was able to observe all but one of Sarah and Dee's lessons on Climate Change, taking thorough field notes during said observations. At the end of every individual lesson, I drafted up several questions, suggestions, and recommendations I have for Sarah and Dee. Some of these have already been addressed, but all of them will be covered in an upcoming informal interview between myself, Sarah, and Dee. Informal interview questions have been developed based on what I saw during the observations. During my discussion with Dee and Sarah, I asked them three specific questions about the unit that I composed ahead of our meeting. These three questions addressed any challenges they faced in designing the unit, whether or not the students met the unit’s goals, and if there are any changes they are already thinking about. We additionally discussed some adjustments that I had thought of to include in the lessons, including more student involvement with the final proposals and having students turn their role cards around during the second simulation in the greenhouse gas activity. Other adjustments were also discussed and these will be outlined in detail in the evaluation report. We discussed some improvements for the planetarium piece, several of which have already been addressed (e.g., dates for the data). Dee is extremely interested in adding in more animations to the show as well as making it a bit more interactive with students. This interactive piece was something that many students noted in their planetarium show evaluations, and Dee was happy to hear that students want to interact. Overall, Sarah and Dee were quite happy with the way this piloting went and are eager to work out the kinks (mostly timing) the next time they implement this unit."
More specific information will be provided in the report due at the end of July 2013 when the another Immersive Earth group has piloted their program. Emily has developed an evaluation tool to be used when the program is made available to the public to assess engagement and interest; awareness, knowledge and understanding by students as well as skills. This tool was also used with one of the pilot programs, but the findings have not yet been made available. To date the Immersive Earth program has been used with over 700 students.
For programs that Terra is intimately involved in:
- terra.nasa.gov has seen almost 12,000 visitors since January, 2013. People spend almost 2.5 minutes on the site, which is a long time. Users in the US make up the primary audience, but there are also large user groups in Brazil, Canada and Russia. Since January there have been 34.7K pages viewed. 76% of the views are from referred sites, such as nasa.gov and earthobservatory.nasa.gov (a partner, demonstrating the effectiveness of this partnership).
- Immersive Earth has reached approximately 700 students this year without the Boston Team's pilot scheduled for later this year, which will reach approximately 200 students. Every year the numbers should double as the program is repeated annually and when the program is made available to the public it will have an even further reach. The evaluation tool for the Minnesota pilot conducted earlier this month was distributed to 122 students, but the findings of that evaluation, which will include knowledge and understanding as well as engagement and skill will be made available in the coming months.
For established programs lead by other missions the evaluation data is available through the leads of each mission and reported to OEPM through their mission. For other communications programs, the data is also available through the partner.