Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)



The WISE team, recognizing our national need for improved science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, has formed a nation-wide partnership with science centers, K-12 educators, professional science organizations, and mission scientists to implement a comprehensive E/PO effort.

The goals of the WISE E/PO program are to:

  • Enhance the quality of STEM education in the United States
  • Share the excitement of WISE science discoveries with the public
  • Help create our 21st century scientific and technical workforce

The objectives of the WISE E/PO program to meet these goals are to:

  • Engage education and public audiences via:
    • Teacher professional development programs,
    • Curriculum support, teacher’s guides, and print resources,
    • Student and citizen use of science data,
    • Science center exhibits, visualizations, and public talks by scientists,
    • Amateur astronomer involvement,
    • After school programs, and
    • Educational Websites
  • Use existing dissemination network
  • Coordinate with key players within the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD), the NASA office of Education, and with interested institutions outside of NASA
  • Involve mission scientists throughout the effort
  • Reach out to underserved communities
  • Evaluate for impact on the intended audiences

WISE E/PO Program Components

K-12 Formal Education

  • WISE Educator Ambassadors – 8 teachers trained in infrared research that train other teachers
  • Hands On Universe – Students following up WISE Asteroid Discoveries
  • Teacher Professional Development – Workshops for teachers on science & technology
  • Curriculum Resources – lesson plans relating to WISE science & technology

Informal Education

  • “Great Balls of Fire” Traveling Exhibit – Exhibit development, online interactives, educator training
  • Night Sky Network – Outreach kits for amateur astronomers about asteroids
  • Science Bulletins – Short features about WISE mission and science from American Museum of Natural History
  • Digital Universe Atlas – WISE data and science in planetarium programming resources

Public Outreach

  • Web Presence – Project Website (mission info, science essays, images, movies, slide shows, etc.), Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podcasts, Scientist Blogs, International Year of Astronomy website
  • Print Materials – Lenticulars, Posters, Fact Sheets, WISE-in-a-box
  • Exhibit Booth – at public events and conferences
  • Public Lectures – International Year of Astronomy events, Star Parties, etc.

Lead Organizations

Center for Science Education at Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California Berkeley




  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (managing organization and operations center for the WISE mission, press advisories and releases, websites, and social media; teacher professional development workshops and online trainings for Solar System Ambassadors and Museum Alliance; JPL Open House)
  • National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Caltech/Spitzer Science Center/IPAC (WISE Educator Ambassadors program)
  • Spitzer Science Center/IPAC (WISE images for public release)
  • Hands-On Universe, including International Astronomical Search Campaign, IASC (master teacher training for Hands-On Universe program; educator materials development, and direct student and teacher participation in WISE mission through confirmation observations of WISE discovered asteroids)
  • Space Dynamic Laboratory, NASA Rocky Mountain Space Grant Consortium (workshop with Native American teachers, elders, and students; Consortium workshop participation, traveling to regional underserved and underrepresented schools and presenting WISE information and activities)
  • Ball Aerospace (Colorado Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) after-school programs for minority students, including field trips and materials, and providing scientist and engineering speakers and mentors)
  • Space Science Institute (traveling exhibit, “Great Balls of Fire”)
  • Astronomical Society of the Pacific (asteroid-themed toolkit for Night Sky Network, “Space Rocks”)
  • American Museum of Natural History (outreach via the Digital Universe Atlas and Science Bulletins)
  • SOFIA Education and Public Outreach Program (teacher professional development for “Active Astronomy” resource guide, plus classroom resource kits) 
  • Origins/Structure and Evolution of the Universe Education Forums, Astrophysics Forum (“Modeling the Universe” educational resource development; teacher professional development activities; International Year of Astronomy activities; Multiwavelength Universe online course for teachers)
  •  Cornerstone Evaluation (external evaluator for WISE Education and Public Outreach program)




Additional Metrics:


Public Outreach

  • Thousands following WISE mission on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Tens of thousands of printed materials distributed to the public through various events


Effectiveness and Impact

Evaluation findings and impact statements:

The general outcomes intended for the whole of the WISE Education and Public Outreach program are that our audiences:

  • gain a greater interest and awareness in space science research and specific knowledge of WISE science;
  • participate in WISE E/PO programs and share their experiences with peers, students, and the public;
  • gain appreciation for and skills in doing actual research related to WISE science; and
  • use WISE science to conduct research, enter science fairs, and publish their work.

Ball Aerospace

  • Ball Aerospace conducted WISE-related outreach events from January 2008 through May 2013
  • 6,733 audience members attended WISE-related events conducted by 45 different presenters
  • 67% of the events were demonstrations/presentations primarily in classrooms, in out-of-school venues and in locales which were targeted because they served underrepresented and underserved audiences such as girls and Latinos
  • 68% of the audiences consisted of students in grades K-12; the rest were adult audiences
  • 1,400 was the largest single audience reached by a Ball-sponsored event—a WISE-related demonstration/presentation made at a Boy Scout jamboree

Space Dynamics Laboratory

  • SDL and WISE support community/school events such as demonstrations, presentations and broadcasts; also provide WISE-in-a-Box and WISE fact sheets at a variety of events; 23,188 students/adults were reached via school/community events and broadcasts from October 2008 to February 2013
  • SDL provided tours to students and the community including displays of WISE hardware and data imagery as well as discussions of the WISE mission and goals; 17,035 participated in facility tours conducted by SDL from 2010 to 2013; participants included Utah State University students/faculty, middle and high school students and members of the community (scout troops, senior citizens, clubs)

Space Sciences Institute

The following impact findings are excerpted from an Institute for Learning Innovation-conducted summative evaluation of ‘Great Balls of Fire: Comets, Asteroids, Meteors’. Science Museum of Virginia hosted exhibit from May 2011 through January 2012 and observational/tracking data and exit interviews were collected in the Summer 2011.

  • Visitors spent relatively long period of time in the exhibition exploring fewer exhibit elements deeply rather than more elements fleetingly
  • Indicators of visitor interest—majority of visitors chose to share information with members of their visitor group and to return to exhibit components
  • Both tracking and interview data indicated that visitors found GBofF to be a positive experience, especially for children and teens…which means that the exhibit is being embraced by its target audience
  • Visitors could describe characteristics of asteroids, comets and meteors and potential risks and implications of Earth impacts; visitors were also aware of meteor showers and the abundance of asteroids recently discovered by scientists
  • Exhibition successful in balancing messages about the implication associated with Earth impacts and the probability that an extinction-causing impact will occur
  • Visitors had increased awareness about the range of tools, methods and strategies that scientists use to study space objects
  • Many visitors enjoyed interactive exhibits that simulated scientific processes used to study asteroids and comets, but it is unclear whether the majority made the connection between these activities and authentic scientific methods
  • Some visitors were reassured that scientists are actively engaged in protecting Earth from a major asteroid or comet impact, confirming visitors’ recognition and appreciation of the role that scientists play in contributing to the safety of the planet

Astronomical Society of the Pacific

  • Space Rocks tool kits launched in September 2010
  • 204,519 visitors attended Night Sky Network outreach events involving the Space Rocks tool kit from September 2010 through April 2013
  • 1,450 events were conducted by members of the Night Sky Network
  • 50% of the events were star parties, 12% classroom presentations, 9% club meetings, 8% community events/celebrations
  • 41 states held Space Rocks outreach events; the Night Sky Network is in all 50 states
  • 1 to 215 marks the number of events conducted across the 41 states; 1 to 18 indicates the number of venues per state; CA is the top ranking state for both number of events and venues; CO and MD rank next
  • 7,092 total hours is the amount of time that event participants were involved in Night Sky Network/Space Rocks outreach
  • 4.9 hours on average were spent at these events ranging from 10 minutes to one month

American Museum of Natural History

  • Digital Universe—a comprehensive 3-D atlas of the cosmos that has been offering, since 2003, WISE statistical and ‘real’ data as part of 1) a direct distribution via AMNH’s website and 2) a global distribution via planetariums:
    • 50 planetariums are estimated to have received Digital Universe as of October 2010
    • 115,970 web downloads of WISE information and statistical data from April 2003 through July 2013
  • Science Bulletins—features current research about the natural world in HD video format including snapshots and documentaries with web statistics posted online
    • WISE-related snapshots played at Rose Center for 4 weeks and available to 34 subscribing institutions and online in perpetuity
    • Documentary, WISE: Focus on Infinity, played on Bulletin for 6 months and available to subscribing members
    • WISE-related information posted on Science Bulletin’s website which gets 600,000 visits annually and AMNH’s YouTube channel that currently has about 6.5 million total views
  • Public programs—include evening ticketed events in which the night sky and the universe are explored with WISE being discussed as part of the overall narrative; 6,336 visitors attended 15 programs between March 2010 and April 2012
  • Professional development—2 WISE-related professional development workshops held at AMNH

Student Collaboration: Capitol College/Space Operations Institute

  • Four students were recognized with certificates from the WISE mission for their contributions to its successful launch and operation
  • One Capitol College student presented WISE-related science topics in 2010 to NYC high school Earth Science and Astronomy classes
  • One of two students responding to an online follow-up survey about involvement with WISE E/PO after the training session reported having made 20 presentations and reaching 500 people

WISE Website

Reach—the number individuals visiting the website

Estimated page views—total number of web pages browsed during a visit

  • 2,303,446 times viewed based on the number of .html requests since the WISE mission site’s first log in Dec 2006
  • Accounting for almost 30% of total requests, the two most visited months were April 2011 and March 2012 which are in sync with two release dates (preliminary public and final) of the 14-weeks-worth of WISE IR survey data
  • Two most-visited months received 12 times more traffic than December 2009, the month of the mission launch

Geography—based on requests’ domain address, the following estimates depict the geographic audience breakdown for the WISE website

  • 73% of the WISE audience are from the US
  • Search word report—words used in search engine queries to find and visit the WISE mission’s website
  • Words used in order of decreasing frequency of use—WISE, infrared, nebula, telescope, survey, wide, explorer, field mission and galaxy

Engagement—monitors how users interact and communicate with the WISE mission’s content…engagement helps build user loyalty and dependency

Referral traffic—a referral website redirects visitors to the WISE mission homepage. The following is the estimated number of page views resulting from a redirect.

  • www.stumbleupon.com: 221,130
  • www.ipac.caltech.edu: 14,202
  • www.translate.googleusercontent.com: 5,272 (website no longer active)
    www.nasa.gov: 3,993
  • www.reddit.com: 1,334

Educational packets

  • All PDFs linked to the WISE mission’s webpage are associated with the Education & Outreach portal
  • 10,749 individuals searching for WISE-related lessons/materials downloaded PDFs

Social Media


  • Demographics—WISE Mission Facebook page is viewed by 26% female and 74% male visitors with 75% falling between the ages of 18 and 54; the vast majority are from the United States
  • Reach—8,280 is the number of page views since July 2009, ‘page views’ refers to the number of users logged into their Facebook account who have visited the WISE Mission Timeline; 36,098 is WISE Mission’s reach, ‘reach’ refers to the daily number of unique users who have seen any content associated with the Page; 516,331 (516/day) impressions received by WISE posts, ‘impressions’ refers to each instance a unique user sees content associated with the WISE Mission Page
  • Action—790 likes on WISE posts in 2013, ‘post likes’ refers to the method FB user has for showing approval without actually writing a comment; 592 clicks were made on FB that redirected a user to the WISE Mission’s website, ‘clicks’ refers to a click through rate
  • Engagement—16,991 people have been talking about the WISE Mission on FB, ‘talking about us’ is the number of people who share stories about the WISE page; 86 comments on content were posted to the Page’s wall and timeline
  • Extension—297 is the number of times that WISE posts have been shared in 2013, a ‘share’ refers to republishing WISE Mission’s content to a users’ own FB friends; 123,399 is the number of people that WISE virally reached, ‘viral reach’ refers to the number of people seeing the WISE Mission or one of their posts from a story published by a friend


  • Reach—14,306 followers have subscribed to the WISE Mission’s account on Twitter which is an increase of 92% from last year; 212 total tweets sent out by @WISE_Mission, 39 tweets so far in 2013
  • Action—8,193 requests on the WISE Mission’s website for which Twitter was responsible; referring to the click through rate
  • Engagement—1,651 is the number of public mentions that WISE has received on Twitter since July 2012, ‘mention’ refers to a Tweet that contains WISE’s username @WISE_Mission
  • Extension—798 is the number of public Twitter lists that WISE belongs to which focus around ‘space’, ‘NASA’, ‘astronomy’ and ‘science’, a ‘list’ refers to a curated group of users that allows an individual to cluster people into segments; 124 is the number of times that WISE was publicly and directly retweeted in 2013, ‘retweet’ refers to a Twitter user republishing the WISE Mission’s original content to their pool of followers

NASA Science Mission Directorate Community Collaborations

  • WISE participated in the Modeling the Universe educational resource development and subsequent teacher PD activities
  • WISE also participated in several forum International Year of Astronomy 2009 activities
  • NASA's Multiwavelength Universe:
    • Held in 2011 and 2012
    • 52 educators attended—primarily high school teachers, mostly female teaching physics, general science, Earth science and astronomy
    • 9% - 11% average increase in percent correct on pre/post knowledge test in 2012 and 2011, respectively
    • 31% - 54% is the pre-post average increase in percent correct for 2012 and 2011, respectively, on the question having the most dramatic increase—‘Sunlight transfers energy to the Earth's surface mostly in the form of: Visible light’

Short-Term Teacher Professional Development

End-of-workshop impact

  • 873 teachers from across the country attended 35 workshops from 2005 to 2012; 623 end-of-workshop questionnaires were collected from 28 of these workshops
  • 35,517 is the number of students that attendees anticipated reaching, while 4,330 is the number of colleagues with whom they planned to share WISE-related ideas and materials
  • 62% planned to use WISE-related ideas and materials as a resource/supplement to their basic science curriculum; 44% said that they would integrate WISE into their science course; 21% planned to train other teachers
  • Pre-post retrospective questions indicated a mean increase of 0.7 on a 4-point scale with regard to respondents’ understanding/knowledge of the WISE mission and its science
  • On average, attendees rated their likelihood of using WISE-related ideas and materials as a 4.0 on a 5-point scale

Follow-up impact

  • 159 workshop attendees responded to an online follow-up questionnaire representing a 30% response rate from successful solicitations; 135 of these were teachers
  • 90% of the teachers reported instructing in high and middle school STEM courses
  • 50% were teaching in Title I schools, primarily in urban settings
  • 79% of those responding reported using workshop ideas primarily to supplement their basic courses, spending an average of 8 hours of instructional time on WISE-related topics and materials
  • 593 fellow teachers are being reached by 91 respondents
  • 36,619 students are being reached by 100 respondents
  • 71%, on average, of students served were minorities in science, that is female and non-White, non-Asian male students; 36% of the students considered themselves Hispanic/Latino
  • 46%, on average, of students received free/reduced lunches

Long-Term Teacher Professional Development

WISE Educator Ambassadors

  • 8 teachers, WISE Educator Ambassadors, were trained in infrared research. A train-the-trainer model was used to enable wider dissemination of WISE-related science, lessons and other mission information
  • 16 students and their WISE Ambassador teachers presented their research as posters at the 2008 and 2009 AAS meetings
  • 6 WISE Ambassadors met informally to share experiences at the 2009 AAS meeting
  • 200+ teachers were reached in 10 workshops and 2 poster sessions presented by WISE Ambassadors at the 2010 AAS meeting
  • 125 students were reached by one WISE Ambassador who conducted an outreach event called Astronomy Night
  • 2,803 teachers were reached by a WISE Ambassador making presentations at regional science teacher conferences
  • One WISE Ambassador received two prestigious awards in 2010—1) in 2010 President Obama named a WISE Ambassador as one of the winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching and 2) PBS Teachers® Innovation Award which are presented to 50 educators for inspiring students and transforming classroom learning

Teacher participants of WISE Ambassador workshops

  • 95 teachers (referred to as Tier 2 teachers) participated in 7 workshops conducted by WISE Ambassadors; an additional 67 teachers participated in workshops conducted from 2008 to 2010 by a collaborative team of WISE Ambassadors and WISE E/PO leads
  • 68% of the students in Tier 2 teachers’ classes are minorities in science—i.e., females and non-White, non-Asian males
  • 66% of the Tier 2 teachers are located in urban or suburban settings; 37% are teaching in Title I schools; 36% of their students are receiving free or reduced lunches
  • 36,848 is the number of students reached in a school year by the Tier 2 teachers
  • 496 is the number of teachers that these Tier 2 teachers anticipate reaching with WISE materials, ideas, and science
  • Pre-post retrospective questions indicated a mean increase of 0.9 on a 5-point scale with regard to respondents’ understanding/knowledge of the WISE mission and its science
  • Pre-post retrospective questions indicated a mean increase of 1.3 on a 5-point scale with regard to respondents’ use/planned use of WISE-related materials, ideas and science

Hands On Universe teachers

  • 9 master teachers became HOU teachers for the WISE mission and trained many teachers whose students followed WISE Asteroid Discoveries in intense student engagement projects
  • 71 Tier 2 teachers participated in 7 workshops conducted by HOU teachers in 2009 and 2010
  • 83% of the students in Tier 2 teachers’ classes are minorities in science—i.e., females and non-White, non-Asian males
  • 53% of the Tier 2 teachers are located in urban or suburban settings; 30% are teaching in Title I schools; 36% of their students are receiving free or reduced lunches
  • 8,247 is the number of students reached in a school year by the Tier 2 teachers
  • 1,186 is the number of teachers that these Tier 2 teachers anticipate reaching with WISE-related materials, ideas, and science
  • Pre-post retrospective questions indicated a mean increase of 1.1 on a 5-point scale with regard to respondents’ understanding/knowledge of the WISE mission and its science
  • Pre-post retrospective questions indicated a mean increase of 1.6 on a 5-point scale with regard to respondents’ use/planned use of WISE-related materials, ideas and science