PLEASE NOTE: This program is no longer active and has been archived in SSEC Research History as of 2/23/18: More info

Sanjay Limaye (262-9541) &
Rosalyn Pertzborn (265-4160)

February, 1998

The Space Science & Engineering Center has recognized the need for a formal organized program in space science K-12 Education and Public Outreach. To achieve this goal a new staff position, Research Outreach Specialist, has been created and filled by Rosalyn Pertzborn. Lead outreach scientist Sanjay Limaye and Ms. Pertzborn are now working with the SSEC staff toward the creation of a basic program that will focus on the different areas of space science (earth, solar system, astronomy and astrophysics). Support has been received from the Evjue Foundation and School of Education as well as JPL, NASA and NOAA.

Current Projects and opportunities for students and teachers:

Red Rover
Mars Exploration Curriculum at Lincoln Elementary School (4th/5th grade) :

Since the beginning of the 1997-98 school year, we have spent one to two hours each week developing the theme of Mars Exploration in Mr. David Wirth's 4th/5th grade classroom. The primary emphasis of this program has been the Red Rover, Red Rover Kit from the Planetary Society, which stimulates the Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner Rover Mars Mission. Because this kit was originally developed for middle school students, we have modified the curriculum to address the needs of a lower grade level. The elementary school version of Red Rover now emphasizes the broader topic of human exploration and colonization of Mars. This has allowed students to approach the subject of the exploration of new worlds in space while considering the basic environmental conditions required for human survival. Four students from Lincoln School presented their Red Rover learning experiences to the MMSD Board in December 1997.

During the last four weeks of the semester, other 4th and 5th grade classes rotated through a one hour introduction to the Mars Exploration curriculum with the objective of choosing a specific activity to pursue during the second semester. The ultimate goal will be to develop a research investigation to be submitted to the Great Blue, an inquiry based journal of science, Math and creative writing published by the Heron Network. An extravaganza is planned in spring 1998 along with a student conference in May1998. With the support of the NASA IDEAS Program, we plan to introduce a new component to the Great Blue, called Space Projects And Research by Kids (SPARK). See instructions for submitting a students report or investigation related to space.


After many delays, the STS-99 flight is up and mapping the earth with the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, and with EarthKAM. The Office of Space Science Education (OSSE) at SSEC the University of Wisconsin-Madison is providing high resolution global cloud cover images for the EarthKAM Project every three hours. With a Java capable browser, schools can select small areas to check the cloud cover for help in targeting their EarthKAM images. Mr. James Kotoski's Seventh Grade class at Spring Harbor Middle School, Madison, Wisconsin, is the only school team participating from Wisconsin in the STS-99 EarthKAM Project.

We have successfully inducted two MMSD schools (Spring Harbor Environmental Magnet School and Velma Hamilton Middle School) into the EarthKAM program (previously known as KidSat). This program, the brainchild of astronaut Sally Ride, enables school children to learn about the earth's environment through remote sensing observations they can make by themselves using a CCD camera on the space shuttle. The project emphasizes geography, technology, math, environmental science, communication, leadership and team work. The two Madison schools participated in the STS-89 flight launched on 22 January 1998 (which carried the fastest growing wheat plants to Mir). We have been developing a middle school global weather lesson unit based on weather satellite imagery for KidSat/EarthKAM. Articles were written for the Department of Public Instruction and the Madison Skies Newsletter.

Astronomy in the Classroom

We have introduced Lincoln and Spring Harbor students to astronomical observing through a portable telescope as well as the Washburn telescope. Field trips to the Yerkes Observatory and CCD observations are planned for spring 1998.

Planned Efforts for Spring, Summer and Fall 1998:

Eisenhower Workshops for Teacher Professional Development

With support from the School of Education, we submitted a proposal to the Eisenhower Program that includes CESA #1, CESA #2, and MMSD as collaborators. The proposals is going to be funded for one year to support the development and presentation of two, one week workshops in summer 1998 with follow up in Fall 1998 and Spring 1999. The first workshop will be conducted under the auspices of the John Muir Academy (Williams Bay High School, Williams Bay, June 22-26, 1999). The second workshop dates have not been finalized. The effort is being called the Wisconsin Initiative for Space Education (WISE). It is hoped that this year's experience we can submit a multi-year proposal in fall of 1998.

High School Students

A joint NOAA / NASA / WSGC three day workshop for high school will be held in early August 1998. This will be the seventh year that this workshop has been conducted. Topics include atmospheric science (weather satellites, digital image processing, and geographic information systems), space exploration, planetary meteorology and geology. No longitudinal study of the participants has yet been undertaken, but may be useful in shaping the direction of this program.

Verner E. Suomi Scholarship Award for High School Seniors

The Verner E. Suomi Scholarship Award is being established with support from NOAA by CIMSS/SSEC. $1000 scholarships will be presented to three outstanding high school seniors from Wisconsin who plan to attend a University of Wisconsin System undergraduate program in the physical sciences; especially meteorology, earth science, oceanography, physics, astronomy, science or math education, environmental science and engineering. Announcements will be sent out in February 1998.

K-12 Education and Public Outreach during 30th Annual Meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences 11-16 October, 1998, Madison, Wisconsin

The plans for the workshops are at the moment uncertain due to lack of NASA support. An exhibition for the general public and schools is still being planned with support from aerospace industry and the Evjue Foundation. Additional support is being sought from agencies such as WEA and other space vendors.

A survey of Middle School Space Science Curriculum and Needs in Wisconsin Schools:

To better meet the K-12 education community's needs in space science, a small survey of the current curriculum and future needs is being planned for Spring 1998 with the help of the Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction (Prof. Jim Stewart) and the LEAD Center.

SPARK - Middle and Elementary School Space Science Journal

With seed support from the NASA IDEAS Program, a new print and web journal entitled Space Projects And Research by Kids has been running since 1998. Students from area schools will contribute their space related research investigations for publication in the SPARK journal. For the elementary schools, SPARK will represent one component of the Great Blue, an inquiry based journal of elementary student work published by the Heron Network.