To Earth and Beyond

Last update to this page:  August 26, 2020

Try Just One of Our Programs in Your Community
The Center believes it takes a community to educate a child, and that’s why we put special emphasis on community-wide engagement through our Learning Community Model. We do this principally through our Journey through the Universe initiative or Voyage National Program, which provides a robust suite of programming for diverse audiences.

But we also recognize that a community might want to request a single program to gauge community interest, gauge program quality, or just meet a one-time need. If you’re looking for an educator workshop; a program for families or the general public; a keynote address for a conference, community event, or graduation ceremony; or visits to grade K-12 classrooms by one of our researchers—or a National Team of scientists and engineers—we’ve set up To Earth and Beyond as the means for schools, school districts, museums and science centers to request a single program.

Want to see the power of our programs?
read these comments from inspired teachers, students, families, and community leaders

The Center’s staff have given thousands of presentations to diverse audiences—students, families, teachers (at conferences and workshops), and the general public. The hallmark is audience participation, and the topics addressed span the Earth and space sciences. The central objective is to develop conceptual understanding of the universe around us by building bridges to the familiar—using the power of models.

General objectives for our presentations:
• reflective of the Center’s pedagogical approach to science education, and a 20-year heritage of programming
• audience engagement & participation, conceptual understanding, inspiration
• customized to address specific topics and strategic educational objectives of the community
• a choice of two strategic educational approaches for programming: 1) a Grade-independent Model: a focus on an understanding of the process of scientific inquiry, using the Earth and space sciences as the content vehicle; or 2) a Grade-specific Model: a focus on specific Earth and space science content, but presented within the context of inquiry.



Your program possibilities (you can even combine them on a single visit)—

1. Professional Development for Teachers
A diverse array of workshops and institutes is available that can address a range of topics, including: Solar System science and exploration, the process of scientific inquiry, Earth science, or engineering using examples from spaceflight. The suite of works

Welcome Dr. Harri! The Center's Dr. Harri Vanhala visited with 279 4th-6th graders at Sawyer Elementary School as part of a team of researchers visiting 3,700 students in Gwinn Michigan. Click on Image for Details

Welcome Dr. Harri! Center astrophysicist Dr. Harri Vanhala visited with 279 4th-6th grade students at Sawyer Elementary School as part of a National Team of researchers visiting 3,700 students in Gwinn Michigan. Click on Image for Details

hop offerings is from our Journey through the Universe initiative, but you can choose to receive just a professional development program for teachers and not the full suite of Journey programming, which typically also includes district-wide programming for students, and family/pubic programs.

Range of offerings:
1-day workshop to week-long summer institute
Grade level: any grade or grade range K-12
Audience: teachers of science in formal and/or informal education settings; or a community’s lead science teachers
Curriculum: choice of the Center’s Grade K-12 Compendia of Lessons, customizable to local curricular need
Detailed Objectives & List of Workshop Offerings Customized to Need: Professional Development Programs for Grade K-12 Educators
Assessment: Professional Development Assessment Data and Analysis

“I have never been moved to tears of joy by a presentation. Inspirational—a wonderful, enthusiastic, heartfelt speaker—it was life changing!” [workshop keynote address]
—professional development workshop attendee, Kansas City, Missouri

More Testimonials






2. Student Programs for Schools and School Districts
Presentations for a single school’s classrooms by one of our researchers—or presentations for an entire school district by a National Team of scientists and engineers from research organizations across the nation. Presentations encourage and foster student participation, place strong emphasis on inquiry-based exploration, provide a personal view of scientific research, and are crafted by the presenters to dovetail with the local curriculum. We ensure that the participating researchers are scientists and engineers who are passionate about their research—and gifted at communicating that passion to audiences of all ages.

Audience size:
typically one class per presentation (20-35 students), with 5 presentations per day per researcher; you can also opt for auditorium presentations by a single researcher to reach larger student audiences
Topics: a vast range of topics reflective of researchers’ interests. See samples of available presentations from our Center’s researchers
Detailed Objectives, Description of Offerings, and Logistics: Classroom Visits
Assessment: Classroom Visit Assessment Data and Analysis


3. Family and Public Programs
Through these presentations we help weave education and learning into the fabric of a community, with parent and child, student and teacher, exploring the majesty of the Universe together. Read some testimonials from attendees at our Family Science Night at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum we’ve been running for 17 years.

Audience size:
30 to 2,000 attendees, often a program for an entire school, or an entire community
Topics: see samples of available presentations
Detailed Objectives, Program Possibilities, and Logistics: Family and Public Programs
Assessment: Family and Public Program Assessment Data and Analysis


4. Conference Keynote, Keynote for a Professional Development Event, or for a Graduation Ceremony
Center staff have delivered many keynote and featured addresses at conferences (e.g., for educators: National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conferences, NSTA State Chapter Conferences), that powerfully set a tone on the importance of education, the gift of learning, the nature of human exploration, and what awaits the next generation of explorers.

Topics: see samples of available presentations; easily customized to address key specific topics and objectives of event organizers
Some Relevant Essays Capturing the Tone at Blog on the Universe: The Nature of Our Existence, The Art of Teaching, The Power of Models
Testimonial: 2008 New Jersey Science Convention Keynote



How to Participate:
We would be happy to talk with you about a customized program for your community. Contact us.

In addition, if you know a donor in your community that feels science education is important, please let them know that a sizable enough contribution to the Center comes with free programming for your community and their donation is 100% tax deductible—including the fair market cost of the programming. They also get the satisfaction of bringing quality national programming to their community, and seeing directly the impact of their donation on local area students, teachers, and families. For more information, see the How You Can Help page.