NASA Nationwide


Fueled by more than 25,000 volunteers, NASA Nationwide brings current NASA science and engineering into thousands of communities reaching millions of children, teachers, and adults across our nation. Started in 2008, this consortium of formal and informal education networks receives training, materials, and resources directly from NASA SMD scientists and educational professionals. In turn, they bring their knowledge and passion for NASA science to their audiences.

More information about the NASA Nationwide program can be found at:


Formed in 2008, NASA Nationwide: A Consortium of Formal and Informal Education Networks (NNW) is a spin-off of the Solar System Ambassadors program (SSA) training module that provides professional development for its volunteers.

The NASA Nationwide Consortium allows NASA to extend its reach to communities all over the country by:

  • Leveraging communications
  • Sharing resources
  • Providing efficiency in professional development
  • Encouraging collaboration
  • Serving more than 25,000 members and affiliates

Effective, focused, high-quality professional development is provided to volunteers. Mission personnel are aware that their audience is composed of volunteers, rather than fellow scientists, so the content and responses to questions are delivered at an appropriate level.

The professional development trainings provide an opportunity for the latest science results from missions and timely background material related to current and upcoming mission activities to be presented to the volunteer networks. The volunteers then disseminate the information to K-12 classrooms, informal education venues, and the general public.

The trainings cover a wide variety of topics from all divisions of the Science Mission Directorate, as well as information on how to better connect with their audiences. Examples of recent trainings include:

  • Mars: Gale Crater Could have Supported Life
  • Spacecraft Impacts on the Moon
  • The Useful Pursuit of Shadows: CloudSat and the Importance of Understanding Clouds
  • The IRIS Mission
  • Here, There and Everywhere: Using Analogies to Teach STEM
  • Opportunity at Endeavour Crater
  • Exoplanet Atmospheres: Insights via the Hubble Space Telescope
  • The LADEE Mission
  • Sun-Earth Day: Solar Max - Storm Warning and Effects on the Solar System
  • NEOs: Finding Them Before They Find Us
  • NASA's Voyager 1 Encounters New Region in Deep Space

The challenges faced in creating a training module to fit most needs were:

  • Serving seven time zones (now 13 time zones)
  • Differing levels of technology
  • Needs of differently-abled volunteers
  • Respecting speakers’ time
  • Firewalls (schools, military bases, etc.)
  • In-person training was not possible for reasons of distance and budget

The training model that evolved includes the following elements:

  • Downloadable web-based materials (presentation and resource)
  • Live telecons with mission personnel
  • Web-based archives with telecon recordings and edited transcripts
  • Presentation material, cleared for public use, that can be used as is or personalized
  • Resources (websites, video, STEM educational materials, etc.)

Because the training model was uncomplicated and efficient, it served a greater number of people. Over time, other groups working with volunteers adopted the same model for their long-distance professional development (e.g., the NASA Museum Alliance, Cassini CHARM Team, Saturn Observation Campaign, Night Sky Network, etc.).

Scientists are involved in NASA Nationwide in many different ways, including reviewing science content for products/resources, writing science content for products/resources, creating educational activities and/or resources, giving presentations to the public, interpreting/clarifying data and results for the EPO team, providing website content, and participating in electronic media efforts (podcast, vodcast, videos, etc.)

Lead Organizations

Jet Propulsion Laboratory




Partners of NASA Nationwide include:

  • NASA Science Mission Directorate
  • Planetary Science missions’ EPO leads, scientists and engineers
  • Earth Science missions’ EPO leads, scientists and engineers
  • Heliophysics missions’ EPO leads, scientists and engineers
  • Astrophysics missions’ EPO leads, scientists and engineers

NASA Volunteer Networks include:

  • Solar System Ambassadors
  • Solar System Educators
  • Night Sky Network
  • NASA NEAT Teachers
  • NASA Explorer School Teachers
  • Saturn Observation Campaign
  • MESSENGER Fellows
  • GLOBE Teachers
  • Spaceward Bound Teachers
  • Girl Scout Trainers
  • GAVRT Teachers
  • AFGU Sky Rangers
  • New Horizons Fellows
  • Athena Student Interns
  • Astrobiology Master Teachers
  • OSIRIS-REx Ambassadors

NASA employee and affiliate groups include:

  • NASA Museum Alliance
  • NASA Speakers Bureau
  • JPL Speakers Bureau
  • Heliophysics Educator-Ambassadors
  • Aerospace Education Specialist Program



NASA Nationwide telecon training totals for FY2012

Number of Solar System Ambassador (SSA) / Solar System Educator Program (SSEP) Sponsored Training Telecons 11

Total Telecon Participants and SSA / SSEP Archive Reviews:

  • Mars Curiosity 466
  • GRAIL 160
  • GAVRT 193
  • SSA Orientation 459
  • SSA/SSEP Ethics 400
  • Transits, Eclipses and Occultations 304
  • NOVA Finding Life Beyond Earth 103
  • Teach Station 81
  • SSEP Curiosity Education 150
  • Dawn Update 170
  • NITARP 45
  • Total 2,351

Number of Museum Alliance Sponsored Training Telecons 36

Total Archive Reviews:

  • Hubble Science Briefing 21
  • LRO Images of Apollo Sites 121
  • LRO: Recent Results from LAMP 38
  • Future of the Greenland Ice Sheet 56
  • Cosmic Rays at the Moon 42
  • How Stars Formed in Galaxies 55
  • The Arctic Ocean Estuary 18
  • Lunar Impact Craters 24
  • Curiosity Landing Events! 103
  • Hubble Science Briefing 61
  • Rare Volcanism on the Moon's Far Side 34
  • Exploring Eyes on the Earth, Part 1 11
  • NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes 28
  • Transit of Venus 56
  • International Observe the Moon Night 18
  • Exploring Eyes on the Earth, Part 2 16
  • The Tarantula Nebula 54
  • LRO 40
  • Water Vapor and Feedbacks in the Earth 36


  • NASA's Mars Rover Curiosity 218
  • Hubble Science Briefing 98
  • Update on Planning for Curiosity's Landing 36
  • Going to Gale Crater 132
  • The Milky Way Galaxy 103
  • Curiosity Sol 0 122
  • Curiosity Sol 1 73
  • Curiosity Sol 2 152
  • Curiosity Sol 3 105
  • NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes Launch 84
  • Moon Mappers 77
  • Curiosity Sol 10 111
  • Curiosity Rover Update 144
  • The James Webb Space Telescope 90
  • Methane: The Other Greenhouse Gas 39
  • Habitability of Mars, Curiosity’s SAM 106
  • Remembering Neil Armstrong 53
  • Total 2,575




Effectiveness and Impact

Currently, the NASA Nationwide website has close to 300 archived telecons available for these volunteer networks, not including the 70 Cassini CHARM telecon archives on that mission’s website (also available to NASA Nationwide Consortium members). More than 320 speakers have taken part in these trainings; the speakers are mission scientists, engineers, EPO personnel, and others.

The volunteers then take the information and resources and share it with the public. Since 2000, the Solar System Ambassador portion of NASA Nationwide has held over 25,000 events and directly interacted with over 8.2 million people.

As of June 7, 2013:

Total Events 25,059
Direct Interactions 8,231,490

Other Methods of Interaction (Not Direct Interaction):

  • TV Video Broadcast 128,527,737
  • Radio Audio Broadcast 91,719,487
  • Exhibit Display 1,042,051
  • Publication Circulation 77,761,356
  • Webcast 2,376,329
  • Web Site 126,209,881
  • Social Media 1,200
  • Two-Way Distance Learning 4,029
  • Other Audience 160,500

Demographics (when available):

  • Disabled 183,685
  • African American 1,016,978
  • Hispanic 1,216,068
  • Native American 22,664
  • Pacific Islander 23,340
  • Women & Girls 2,291,199
  • Other Diversity 47,221

The Consortium of NASA volunteer networks serves more than 25,000 members and affiliates.

The NASA Nationwide Consortium invited NASA Speakers Bureau members and other agency affiliates to join the volunteer networks in the professional development trainings to give them access to the most recent science results, presentation materials, and resources.

NASA Nationwide also provides NASA scientists who are interested in participating in education and public outreach (E/PO) efforts, or have a need to incorporate E/PO efforts into missions and projects, a means to learn more about these groups, get involved, and partner with member networks. Scientists are able to network and connect with volunteer groups through the NASA Nationwide online community and can also get involved in developing E/PO resources for the NASA Nationwide community.