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May 11, 2016

May 11, 2016

NASA Awards $10 Million Grant for WGBH STEM Partnership

Digital resou­­rces will “Bring the Universe to America’s Classrooms”
Materials will be free to educators and students through PBS LearningMedia

NCAM's Bryan Gould speaks to NASA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — The education team at Boston public media producer WGBH has been awarded approximately $10 million over the next five years from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop new instructional models and digital media tools for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teaching and learning.

The initiative, “Bringing the Universe into America’s Classrooms,” will yield a WGBH-designed collection of K-12 digital resources infused with NASA and public media content to support STEM instruction. The resources, including videos, interactives, data visualizations, lesson plans, student activities, and more, will integrate dynamic multi-media content from NASA as well as WGBH signature STEM properties Design Squad, FETCH!, NOVA, PEEP and the Big Wide World, and Plum Landing. These resources will be distributed free of charge through PBS LearningMedia, reaching millions of students and teachers nationally.

The WGBH Education team, which creates cutting edge media and curriculum content for children, teachers and parents for both formal and informal learning, was chosen from among a select group of applicants to receive the grant. Rachel Connolly, WGBH’s Director of STEM Education, will serve as the project’s Principal Investigator, overseeing the WGBH team’s overall strategy and implementation.

“This is a tremendous achievement and demonstrates WGBH’s strength as a creator of educational media,” said Jon Abbott, President & CEO, WGBH. “We are pleased to be recognized by NASA for the depth of our work in science and look forward to collaborating with them.”

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to develop these next-generation science resources for STEM teachers and their students, and to make them widely available through PBS LearningMedia,” said Terry Fitzpatrick, Vice President of Education and Children’s Media, WGBH.

“PBS LearningMedia is proud to partner with WGBH and NASA to make these valuable STEM resources available to educators and students,” said Alicia Levi, Vice President, PBS Education. “Through this new collaboration, we are furthering our commitment to make high-quality resources accessible to students wherever they are and whenever they want to learn.”

NASA’s STEM grant selections were made by the agency’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), with the goal to implement a new strategic approach to more effectively engage learners of all ages on NASA science education programs and activities. Recipient activities will support Earth science, astrophysics, planetary science and heliophysics.

As part of the grant, WGBH will partner with the Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning at Oregon State University (OSU), led by Dr. Martin Storksdieck as Co-Investigator, who will conduct independent, formative and summative evaluations of the project. OSU’s preliminary research and subsequent findings will be used to inform the learning materials produced by WGBH, and to gauge their effectiveness in the classrooms in which they are used.

“It is exciting to work with such an experienced production team on evidence-based and empirically validated solutions that will actually be used by teachers and students,” said Dr. Storksdieck.

WGBH will also partner with Harvard University’s WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors (WWTA) program. WWTA uses WorldWide Telescope (WWT) technology, which enables a personal computer to function as a virtual telescope, to teach STEM concepts in schools and beyond. WGBH will design, develop and integrate WWT content into PBS LearningMedia, creating an educational platform, featuring both curricular materials and educations experiences, designed for K–12. Co-Investigator Dr. Alyssa Goodman, Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, and a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution, will lead Harvard’s contributions to the project.

“The WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors team at Harvard is thrilled to be partnering with WGBH to share amazing NASA discoveries using the immersive WorldWide Telescope environment online,” said Dr. Goodman. “WWT offers a beautiful online environment that can easily access and display nearly everything humanity knows about the Universe. We hope the small sample of the universe we provide in the WGBH project entices learners to explore more on their own.”

WGBH will also engage the services of The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), which is part of WGBH, to consult on the project’s approach to accessible educational materials, including establishing best practices across the project’s television, website, and printed materials.

To learn more about WGBH Education’s partnership with NASA, please visit: