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6 Education and Public Outreach The committee’s consideration of issues related to education and outreach was driven by two main concerns: Can the education system provide a sufficient number of scientists trained in solar and space physics to carry out the national research program outlined in this report for the next decade? How can solar and space physics contribute to the national effort to enhance education in science and technology? Dealing with issues in these two areas can, the committee believes, provide the most leverage for the future. To address the specific need for people trained in solar and space physics, the committee concentrated on colleges and universities, where declining enrollments in undergraduate degree programs in physics and Earth sciences are leading to a shortfall at the base of the pipeline for future researchers, instrument developers, faculty, and mentors in solar and space physics. It considered ways to enhance the quality of education at the dozen or so colleges and universities where solar and space physics currently has a strong presence and looked at approaches to attracting a diverse student population to the field and to encouraging the expansion of solar and space physics to a larger fraction of the nation’s institutions of higher education. The committee focused mostly on issues related specifically to undergraduate education, believing that it is here that research and teaching in solar and space physics can have the greatest impact over the next decade. To address the broader issue of contributions by solar and space physics to science literacy and appreciation, the committee focused on undergraduate physics and astronomy general education courses, which influence a significant number of potential school teachers at all levels, as well as on
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programs that support the involvement of solar and space physics researchers with institutions such as local schools and museums. The committee believes that solar and space physics research should continue to make substantial contributions to K-12 education, to informal education of the public, and to public outreach. Solar and space physics can deepen people’s awareness of the excitement of space exploration, the beauty of auroral displays, and the drama of massive eruptions on the Sun. And as described in Chapter 5, the practical applications of solar and space physics readily illustrate the societal relevance of understanding the solar system. Solar and space physics can be a valuable tool for motivating and educating students, for informing the public, and for illustrating important lessons of physical science (Figure 6.1). The strengthening of science and technology education is an important national goal whose achievement would bolster the country’s workforce in science and engineering and also ensure a citizenry that is able to cope with and understand the technical forces that are shaping the contemporary world.1 EDUCATING FUTURE SOLAR AND SPACE PHYSICISTS Augmenting the Faculty When the newest results from spacecraft exploration of the Sun and of Earth’s environment in space are reported, even the youngest students express great interest and enthusiasm. Yet in part because of its relatively short history, solar and space physics appears only adventitiously in formal instructional programs. Because it is mainly in the colleges and universities that new science is presented to future generations, new issues are debated, and interdisciplinary approaches are developed,2 it is vital that solar and space physics develop and maintain a strong presence in our colleges and universities. Solar and space physics is highly interdisciplinary, with faculty and graduate education often split among departments of physics, mathematics, geophysics, astronomy, electrical and aerospace engineering, and Earth and atmospheric sciences. Currently, only a handful of institutions offer specific undergraduate courses, much less concentrations, in solar or space physics. Moreover, unlike introductory astronomy or geology, which are prominent in K-12 and college science instruction, solar and space physics is rarely a part of current curricula. Thus, many who graduate with degrees in the
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FIGURE 6.1 Public outreach by the solar and space physics community spans a wide range of activities through different media and at a variety of venues. Examples are (a) the IMAX movie SolarMax, playing at theaters across the nation, <http://www.solarmovie.com/>; (b) a plasmasphere, part of the Electric Space exhibit that has toured science museums, <http://www.spacescience.org/Outreach/TravSciExhibits/ESpaceExhibitProject/>; (c) information about space weather distributed via the Web and compact disks, <http://earth.rice.edu/connected/space_weather.html>; and (d) a press release of auroral movies from the Polar spacecraft, <http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20011025aurora.html>. physical sciences have little knowledge of the space environment that envelops our planet. At the same time, solar and space physics has continued to become an ever greater element of our national research portfolio. Indeed, as summarized in this survey, recent advances in understanding in solar and space physics have been enormous. The number of active researchers has continued to grow along with research opportunities, and the ambitious, and quite achievable, research program laid out in this survey report would further
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enhance understanding of the Sun in many key areas, as well as of the space environments of Earth and the other planets, over the next decade. But success in this research requires a strong national cadre of young and expert solar and space physics scientists who can participate in research (particularly instrument development) whether at universities, in industry, or at the national laboratories. Thus the currently dwindling pipeline for solar and space physics researchers is a concern. For the past 10 years the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in physics has declined by 20 percent (at the same time as the total number of bachelor’s degrees has increased by 20 percent).3 The number of doctorates granted in physics has held steady only because of the increased participation of foreign students; the number of physics doctorates awarded to U.S. students has continued to drop. Strong measures of diverse types are required to attract students to the relevant programs and maintain effective research at universities.4 Various approaches could be used to encourage colleges and universities, particularly the top-tier research universities, to include solar and space physics topics as an integral part of their physical science curricula and to foster continuing strong research in the field. A healthy presence for solar and space physics in academia would require additional faculty members to guide student research (both undergraduate and graduate), to teach solar and space physics graduate programs, and to integrate topics in solar and space physics into basic physics and astronomy classes. A program that provides matching funds would give academic institutions a critical incentive to recruit solar and space physics faculty. Adding solar and space physics faculty to institutions serving minorities could allow these institutions to expand their research agendas and serve as recruiting grounds for solar and space physics. Augmentation of university faculty in solar and space physics is essential for the support of a strong national solar and space physics research program in the coming decade. Recommendation: The NSF and NASA should jointly establish a program of “bridged positions” that provides (through a competitive process) partial salary, start-up funding, and research support for four new faculty members every year for 5 years. Accurate statistics on solar and space physics demographics do not exist. If one makes a rough estimate that there are 100 solar and space physics faculty in tenure-track positions at universities, the recommended support for a total of 20 new faculty lines over the next decade represents an increase of ~20 percent. Each appointment would be made in accordance with an academic institution’s normal appointment and tenure-track poli-
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cies, with the federal agencies providing a portion of the salary and research funds for 3 to 5 years (depending on the seniority of the recipient) to help initiate courses in the field and to start a research group. After 5 years, the position would be reviewed under the institution’s regular assessment system. If the assessment proved satisfactory, and if—as expected—the research group had become self-sustaining, the academic institution would then assume full funding for the faculty member. Examples of NASA-supported faculty positions in the past 15 years include those at the University of New Hampshire, Montana State University, and Utah State University. Joint NSF and NASA support for this program is recommended because solar and space physics is of significance to both agencies. Supporting Summer Institutes and Distance Education The decadal research program presented in this survey emphasizes the coupled complexity of the interrelated system of the Sun and the heliosphere and the interaction of the solar wind with the planets. Yet the full scope of the relevant scientific background is rarely covered at the graduate level. As pointed out above, the field of solar and space physics spans diverse subject areas that are rarely found in a single academic department and indeed, solar and space physics is taught at only a dozen or so U.S. universities in courses that often cover only a limited part of the field. Summer institutes have proven successful in exposing graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to a wider range of topics than is typically available at their home institutions. Such institutes assemble graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and experienced space physicists for 2 weeks to 3 months of concentrated study. Attendees receive tutorials in the underlying physics, learn about the latest research across the entire breadth of solar and space physics and/or in specialized topics, and become familiar with the connections across the solar and space physics domain. Several entities, including the Santa Barbara Theory Institute, the NSF Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) program, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, have supported such solar and space physics training events. Summer institutes in space physics also continue to be a very successful component of annual week-long workshops at the NSF-sponsored GEM meeting and the Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) meeting; at the University of Alaska Ionospheric Modification summer school; and at the Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling at Boston University, which organizes a 2-week summer program for 24 students every year.
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Education in solar and space physics during the academic year could be considerably enhanced if the latest advances in information technology were exploited to provide distance learning for both graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Distance learning courses involving several faculty from a number of institutions could be offered on the Web, either as informal, asynchronous learning opportunities or as formal, synchronous courses.5 Such offerings would substantially expand the reach and the educational value of the expertise that currently resides at a limited number of institutions. Linking distance education to space physics summer courses would multiply its value, since experience demonstrates that remote learning can be greatly enhanced when it is coupled with face-to-face sessions.6 Such a program would bring a broader range of solar and space physics educational opportunities to colleges and universities across the nation. Finding: Summer institutes play a vital role in providing both depth and breadth in the space physics education of graduate students and junior researchers. Recommendation: The NSF and NASA should jointly support an initiative that provides increased opportunities for distance education in solar and space physics. Providing Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Solar and Space Physics Solar and space physics projects for undergraduates offer students a chance to be involved in research, from designing and building hardware to gathering and analyzing data. Ranging from student-based missions—e.g., the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, designed, built, and operated at the University of Colorado with the participation of more than 100 students—to single-student projects in data analysis, theory, or experimentation, such research opportunities can help students directly realize the excitement of scientific exploration (Figure 6.2). At Augsburg College, for example, a student analyzed data from an array of NSF-supported instruments in the Antarctic; at Middlebury College, a student worked through the algebra of an analytical model of solar prominences; at the University of California at Los Angeles, students helped to archive Galileo magnetometer data; and at Williams College, students joined an expedition to view a solar eclipse and study the solar corona. Summer or part-time internships in industry or government research labs also enable students to experience the research
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FIGURE 6.2 Involvement of undergraduate students in solar and space physics research has proved to be an important factor in recruiting and retaining students as physics and Earth science majors. (a) Students at the University of Colorado built and operated the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer, <http://lasp.colorado.edu/snoe/>; (b) an individual student working on a theoretical problem with a professional scientist during a Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science summer program, <http://www.ucar.edu/soars/dirindex.html>; (c) a student participating in an experiment at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory summer institute for high school teachers, <http://science-education.pppl.gov/SummerInst/index.htmL>; and (d) an Augsburg College undergraduate installing a magnetometer in northern Canada, <http://www.augsburg.edu/physics/>.
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environment and to become actively involved in space missions or ground-based projects. At Goddard Space Flight Center, for example, a summer intern analyzed Mars Global Surveyor magnetometer data; at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a California Institute of Technology student worked on Ulysses data between classes; and at Lockheed Martin and Lucent Technologies students are analyzing solar data from TRACE or ground-based telescopes. Undergraduate research programs have contributed effectively to enhancing the recruitment and retention of science majors, as seen, for example, in the successful efforts of some physics departments to increase the number of graduating majors (see sidebar, “Degrees Awarded in Undergraduate Physics Programs—Gains and Losses”). Initiatives aimed at attracting a broader cross section of students to solar and space physics are also vital (see sidebar, “Diversity in Space Physics”). On-campus undergraduate research and off-campus research internships are valued greatly because of the hands-on experience they provide. They also offer students the opportunity to work in a team or group environment, make decisions that contribute to the success or failure of a project, and take responsibility for and feel the satisfaction of being creative. Employers and graduate schools look for this experience in applicants.7,8 The NSF’s successful Research Experiences for Undergraduates program supports ~15 supplemental grants per year in the solar and space physics area. A simple letter to the program officer specifies how the money (usually a few thousand dollars per student) will be spent, and the decision to fund the request is made by the program officer. At present there is no comparable NASA program for undergraduate research. Finding: NSF support for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program is valuable for encouraging undergraduates in the solar and space physics research area. A substantial expansion of research opportunities for undergraduates in solar and space physics is a means not just of enhancing the training of future scientists in this field but also of contributing to a technically trained workforce. Recommendation: NASA should institute a specific program for the support of undergraduate research in solar and space physics at colleges and universities. The program should have the flexibility to support such research with either a supplement to existing grants or with a stand-alone grant.
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DEGREES AWARDED IN UNDERGRADUATE PHYSICS PROGRAMS—GAINS AND LOSSES Statistics for 2000 compiled by the American Institute of Physics on the 770 physics departments at U.S. universities show that the number of degrees awarded in physics has continued to decline sharply, dropping by 20 percent over the past 10 years. During the same period, the total number of bachelor’s degrees granted in all fields increased by 20 percent.1 The fraction of women among recipients of physics degrees remains at less than 20 percent and is increasing at a slower rate than the fraction of women earning degrees in engineering and chemistry.2 Some physics departments are struggling with understanding the causes of these declines and are searching for solutions, as shown by the following excerpts from the report of the Conference on Building Undergraduate Physics Programs for the 21st Century, held in Arlington, Va., October 2-4, 1998. Some have succeeded in implementing reforms that have had positive effects on enrollment. Ten college and university departments presented “case studies” of their responses to the challenges faced by their physics departments. . . . The departments had taken different paths, but many programs had overlapping themes. Some promoted mentoring and recruiting of undergraduates and involving undergraduates in research as soon as possible. Others had made major modifications in their curricula to promote double majors or to allow students to take courses in engineering specialties to make themselves more marketable. Still others had made major changes in the way they teach their introductory courses to make them more attractive and useful to students. Bob Ehrlich, Professor of Physics and former chair at George Mason University, analyzed data collected from physics departments that had seen a significant change in the numbers of majors completing their programs. He analyzed the situations for those who experienced an increase (7 “Big Gainers”) and those who had seen a significant decline (28 “Big Losers”) in the numbers of majors they graduate. He found it significant that the ”Big Losers” blame their declines mainly on external factors such as increased competition from other departments, changes in student preparation or skewed statistics. Few of the department chairs see themselves or their fellow physics faculty members as the problem, although one chair mentioned aging faculty as a significant factor in the decline. In contrast, the seven “Big Gainers” had implemented reformed curricula, particularly in the introductory courses. They had focused on increased recruitment efforts and adopted mentoring programs to increase retention. These departments encouraged early involvement of undergraduates in research, and provided extensive advising, and community-building within the department. Some of them cited grants as being critical to their success. Nearly all of the Big Gainers had introduced flexible, multiple-track majors that allowed their students time to take courses outside the physics department—in engineering or computer science, for example. 1. Nickholson, S., and P. Mulvey, American Institute of Physics Report R-394-7, September 2001. 2. Ivie, R., and K. Stowe, American Institute of Physics Report R-430, June 2000.
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DIVERSITY IN SPACE PHYSICS The solar and space physics community should seek ways to avail itself of the talents and skills of a large and increasing segment of society, individuals from underrepresented groups. The need to attract a diverse population to the field is articulated in the Diversity Strategy of the American Geophysical Union: The Earth and space sciences are in danger of losing a significant portion of the workforce necessary to ensure its future. Evidence for this problem includes: The aging population of scientific professionals nearing retirement comprises the largest proportion of the present Earth and space scientists. A thirteen percent decline in graduate enrollment occurred within the Earth and space sciences during the 1990’s.1 The numbers of white males, the largest demographic community within the Earth and space sciences, receiving bachelors degrees in the geosciences have decreased by nearly 80% over the past quarter century.2 Thus, the traditional base of future Earth and space scientists in the US is shrinking. And, Over the last two decades, the numbers of Earth and space science academic programs, particularly at post-secondary levels, and total academic science majors in the United States have declined. The 21st century demographics of the US population in grades K-12, i.e., the future scientists of America, are shifting rapidly. Minority populations have had the greatest proportional increase within the United States during the decade of the 1990’s. Presently, racial and ethnic minorities, women, and persons with disabilities are not replacing the potential workforce shortfall. This is despite the fact that the percentage of ethnic and racial minorities in the resident US population is ~40% of the future talent pool, i.e. elementary school students.3 Students from minority groups are not choosing geoscience careers for a variety of reasons, not all of which are fully understood. . . . It is essential that new strategies for educating, recruiting, and retaining geoscientists from currently under-represented populations be developed in order to fill this future workforce shortfall. The potential ramifications of this situation—for individual investigators seeking students to fill classes or work in their research programs, for institutions looking to replace faculty and researchers, for the larger community looking to the public for continued research funding . . . could be crippling. Therefore, the challenge is to identify, promote, and implement effective strategies that increase diversity within the Earth and space sciences. The federal agencies supporting solar and space physics recognize these issues and have set up initiatives to address them. The NSF’s Diversity Initiative program has offered grants to a variety of universities and organizations such as the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. In the summer of 2000, NASA’s Office of Space Science launched its Minority University Initiative, which has made available to institutions serving minorities funds for a wide range of programs, such as new space science courses or degree programs, public education, and outreach efforts. NOAA has established a diversity initiative aimed at supporting NOAA-related science research targeted at minority-serving universities, and it issued a request for proposals in 2002. 1. NSF, Data Brief: Growth Continued in Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering Fields, NSF 01-312, 2001; NSF, Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Fall 1999, NSF 01-315, 2001. 2. American Geological Institute, Guide to Geoscience Departments, 2001. 3. United States Census Bureau, NP-D1-A: Projections of the Resident Population by Age, Sex, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Nativity: 1999-2100, 2000.
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ENHANCING EDUCATION IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Curiosity about our surroundings and about the universe beyond our immediate horizon has driven intellectual musings and scientific exploration over the millennia. The space age not only has given birth to the new research discipline of solar and space physics, but also has sparked intense public interest in the space environment and space exploration. Efforts to expand understanding, driven initially by curiosity, have found important practical applications that, as related in Chapter 5, rely on satellite information systems and space-based communications. Both the science of solar and space physics and the societal implications of solar and space physics phenomena should be conveyed to students and the public through a diverse program of educational activities. Solar and Space Physics in Basic Undergraduate Instruction The inclusion of solar and space physics topics in instructional programs that reach a student audience beyond physical science and engineering majors is another important educational goal. In the basic physics and introductory astronomy courses taken by students in many fields to fulfill the science requirement of a general education component and taught at just about every university and college across the nation, solar and space physics topics and issues are often treated superficially, if at all. Solar and space physics has much to contribute to the science education of these large audiences—estimated by textbook publishers to number approximately 250,000 students at any one time in introductory astronomy courses, for example—which include science and engineering majors along with nonscience majors. While basic physics courses are often required for science and engineering majors, there are well-documented problems with the manner in which Physics 101 is taught at many universities and colleges (see sidebar above, “Degrees Awarded in Undergraduate Physics Programs—Gains and Losses”). These include large classes, underqualified instructors, a mechanical approach to learning, and a competitive rather than a collaborative culture. All of these factors have been shown to reduce the motivation of even capable student engineers and physicists, as well as nonscience majors.9,10 The solar and space physics community could contribute to quality basic undergraduate instruction in a number of ways:
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It could develop learning materials that use examples from space science to illustrate fundamental concepts such as energy, magnetism, and radiation. It could provide less experienced instructors with quality materials that are tied to the curriculum, easy to use, self-explanatory, and readily incorporated into collaborative learning activities. It could develop Web-based interactive tools that students can use in class or at home in alternative approaches to learning (rather than passively listening to a lecture). It could harness the excitement of space exploration through the use of stimulating concepts, events, and phenomena with social relevance— such as auroral images, magnetic weather on the Sun, the latest data from planetary probes, and predictions of radiation fluxes being experienced by astronauts in the International Space Station. Directed at improving the quality of teaching and learning, these sample approaches follow principles recommended in recent NRC studies11 and prevalent in the physics education literature.12 Solar and space physics can also contribute significantly to the impact of introductory science courses that are taught across the country to strengthen science literacy for nonscientists. Topics such as the Sun as a star, Earth as a planet, and the space environment surrounding Earth and other solar system objects provide opportunities to illustrate basic physical principles with relevant examples (see sidebar, “Space Physics Topics in Introductory Science Courses”). SPACE PHYSICS TOPICS IN INTRODUCTORY SCIENCE COURSES Introductory Physics Introductory Astronomy • Magnetic and electric fields • Charged particle motions, currents • Plasmas • Atomic physics—ionization, excitation, radiation, recombination • Sun and stars (interior, atmosphere, corona, solar wind) • Solar variability • Planetary magnetic fields (implications for interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres) • Terrestrial space weather, auroras
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For many K-12 teachers who take versions of Physics 101 or Astronomy 101 during their preservice education, these courses are their last formal contact with science. Enriching the experience of future teachers with stimulating and relevant material and inquiry-based learning could have a deep, long-term impact on science education in schools. The coupling of undergraduate education to the enhancement of teacher preparation is a major theme of several recent studies.13 While some physics and astronomy textbooks are beginning to use images and examples from solar and space physics, modern technology offers a potentially more interactive learning experience (Figure 6.3). Movies of the solar corona from the TRACE spacecraft bring alive concepts of magnetic fields and plasmas. Bright auroral displays dramatically illustrate atomic processes. The IMAGE movies make magnetospheric variability evident. Furthermore, interactive tools allow students to explore concepts such as electric and magnetic fields, the motion of charged particles, and the excitation and radiation of atmospheric gases as they watch the effects of changing parameters in simple graphical models. These interactive, inquiry-based learning activities are proving to be effective in developing long-term understanding of concepts, particularly for students whose levels of achievement in past science courses have tended to be low.14 Some of the ingredients of solar and space physics-based instructional materials for introductory physics and astronomy courses already exist. Images, data, and explanations of solar and space physics material appear on many Web sites; faculty at universities around the world also have developed curricular materials for their own courses. Such material should be presented as part of a process of inquiry rather than as an ensemble of facts or knowledge. The solar and space physics community could contribute significantly to a nationwide science literacy program by organizing existing Web resources aimed at audiences with different levels of sophistication, developing additional modules, and providing sample problems in solar and space physics tied to topics in basic physics or astronomy curricula. Similar tools could be usefully adapted either for more advanced undergraduate courses (e.g., physics courses for majors) or, through collaboration with teachers, for precollege education (discussed also in the next section). For example, instructional materials developed for an introductory astronomy course for nonscientists are often just as appropriate for science-gifted students in middle and high school. Furthermore, with a little repackaging, Web-based material that is developed for formal classes could prove
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FIGURE 6.3 Solar and space physics teachers are using information technology to develop interactive tools that enhance learning. For example, (a) animations and java applets illustrate experiments in fresh-man electricity and magnetism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, <http://caes.mit.edu/research/teal/>; (b) Windows to the Universe provides classroom activities involving links to real-time solar and space physics data, <http://www.windows.ucar.edu/openhouse/data_realtime.html>; (c) University of Colorado students use Web-based tools in an introductory astronomy course, <http://cosmos.colorado.edu/tools>; and (d) a java applet allows students to explore the effect on Earth’s temperature of changing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, <http://solarsystem.colorado.edu>. valuable in informal education settings (such as lifelong learning via the Web or in museums and planetariums as well). Solar and space physics researchers will have to team with experienced educators to ensure that such educational products are effective and meet the appropriate curriculum standards (either college or precollege level).
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Recommendation: Over the next decade NASA and the NSF should fund groups to develop and disseminate solar and space physics educational resources (especially at the undergraduate level) and to train educators and scientists in the effective use of such resources. One way to implement this recommendation would be to fund, by peer review, as many as three groups for 3 to 5 years each. A resource development group might be envisioned as a collaborative team comprising solar and space physicists, experienced college teachers, and, when materials are to be adapted for use in middle and high school, curriculum specialists. Such a group could also include experts in the development and assessment of educational materials. The emphasis should be on producing solar and space physics-related materials that can be used broadly (rather than on supporting educational experiments focused at individual institutions) and at multiple levels. Workshops for instructors would encourage effective use of the materials. The committee estimates that the yearly cost of a resource development group would be about $500,000. Such a program could have a substantial impact on science education at the undergraduate level over the next decade. Solar and Space Physics in K-12 Education and Public Outreach National Science Education Standards Solar and space physics also has much to offer in enriching K-12 education (Figure 6.4). The NRC’s National Science Education Standards, a set of guidelines developed to help teachers and administrators enhance the quality of science education across the nation, covers process and style of education in the sciences and technology as well as specific content.15 Physical science and Earth and space science are two of the eight subject areas recommended for inclusion in the K-12 science curriculum (see sidebar, “National Science Education Standards”). Particularly in the curriculum for grades 6 through 12, solar and space physics can provide unique illustrations and applications for topics in physical science and Earth and space science and can furnish examples for such content standards areas as science as inquiry, science and technology, and science in personal and social perspectives. Few teachers have formal training in Earth and space science. Individuals in the solar and space physics research community can contribute by becoming involved in their local school district, consulting in the development of appropriate curriculum materials, reviewing the content of such materials for accuracy, and,
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FIGURE 6.4 Solar and space physics enters the K-12 curriculum through physical science as well as Earth and space science topics. Scientists have partnered with education specialists to develop solar and space physics materials for K-12 students. Examples of such efforts include (a) information on how to build a simple device for measuring Earth’s magnetic field, <http://image.gsfc.nasa.gov/poetry//workbook/magnet.html>; (b) the Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum, NASA’s clearinghouse for connecting solar and space physics scientists and educators, <http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/index.htm>; (c) curriculum materials developed for formal and informal K-12 education by the Space Science Institute, <http://www.spacescience.org/Education/CurriculumDevelopment/1.html>; (d) Windows to the Universe, which delivers a wide range of resources in Earth and space science adapted for elementary, middle, and high-school levels, <http://www.windows.ucar.edu/>; and (e) the Stanford Solar Center, which provides activities for learning about solar physics in the classroom or at home, <http://solar-center.stanford.edu/activities.html>.
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NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS Content Standards Unifying concepts and processes Science as inquiry Physical science Life science Earth and space science Science and technology Science in personal and social perspectives History and nature of science Physical Science Standards Levels K-4 Levels 5-8 Levels 9-12 Properties of objects and materials Position and motion of objects Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism Properties and changes in properties of matter Motions and forces Transfer of energy Structure of atoms Structure and properties of matter Chemical reactions Motions and forces Conservation of energy and increase in disorder Interactions of energy and matter Earth and Space Science Standards Levels K-4 Levels 5-8 Levels 9-12 Properties of Earth materials Objects in the sky Changes in Earth and sky Structure of the Earth system Earth’s history Earth in the solar system Energy in the Earth system Geochemical cycles Origin and evolution of the Earth system Origin and evolution of the universe
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with appropriate training, assisting in workshops that support teachers in implementing a significant science curriculum.16 Since the publication of the Standards, organizations such as the National Science Resources Center have produced guides for improving science education at different academic levels. For example, Science for All Children17discusses several exemplary school systems and suggests how parents, teachers, and administrators can go about improving the quality of science education in their schools. Many school systems have received grants from the U.S. Department of Education or the NSF (whose Office of Systemic Reform manages three large-scale reform projects: the Rural, Urban, and Statewide Systemic Initiatives) to improve instruction in science-related subjects. Finding: Solar and space physics can play an important role in the implementation of national science education standards and state standards in science and technology, especially in middle and high schools in the subject areas of physical science and Earth and space science. Education Initiatives at the NSF Recent years have seen increasing interaction between the NSF’s science organizations that support solar and space physics research—principally the Division of Atmospheric Sciences within the Directorate of Geosciences (GEO) and the Division of Astronomical Sciences within the Directorate of Mathematical and Physical Sciences—and programs in its Directorate of Education and Human Resources (EHR). Several valuable programs that enhance science education range from projects in local schools to national efforts carried out through EHR. For example, a 1997 report of the Geoscience Education Working Group recognized the important role of Earth scientists in education and recommended stronger ties and collaborations between GEO and EHR.18 In response, Geosciences Education, a joint program initiated by GEO with EHR, was started in 1998. The program covers formal education from K-12 through graduate and postdoctoral training, as well as informal education carried out by about 20 competitively selected projects per year. These projects span the entire range of geophysics; few as yet include solar and space physics. NSF support for solar and space physics educational activities could come about through the Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences program in EHR’s Division of Undergraduate Education19 and in its Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education.20 The NSF/
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GEO diversity initiative presents a valuable opportunity to bring underrepresented groups into solar and space physics. However, the committee believes that NSF’s education programs in the areas of solar and space physics could be expanded and strengthened. Collaborations between the Directorate of Education and Human Resources, the Directorate of Geosciences, and the Division of Astronomical Sciences should be designed to encourage solar and space physics researchers to bring exciting research results to the classroom and to the public. Education and Public Outreach Initiatives at NASA NASA’s Office of Space Science (OSS) has established an extensive effort in education and public outreach. The OSS requires that approximately 2 percent of all mission costs be spent on education and public outreach (see Figures 6.1 and 6.4 above). Most of the activities supported build on existing programs at NASA centers and in museums, school systems, or educational institutions. Many are highly leveraged, with the aim of having a substantial national impact. A recent review and assessment of OSS’s education and public outreach program gave high marks for the program’s information content but noted that the limited financial resources of most schools pose a challenge to getting space science into the classroom.21 The assessment further noted that difficulties can arise at times in such programs, because scientists and non-college-level educators come from different professional cultures and often approach a project from incompatible viewpoints. In addition to supporting education and public outreach programs that are linked to specific flight missions, NASA’s OSS provides supplements in the form of small grants that support participation by individual scientists. The scope of these supplements has recently been expanded to allow, for example, budgets for education and outreach of up to 5 percent of the primary research grant, as well as bundling of institutions’ education and outreach activities into larger grants. These supplements to grants have enabled solar and space physics researchers to become involved in education and public outreach activities at the local level.22 Finding: NASA-funded education and public outreach projects encourage and permit researchers to collaborate with educators on a wide variety of educational activities related to solar and space physics, many of which have a substantial impact on public awareness of issues in solar and space physics and their link to broader science and technology concerns.
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NOTES 1. “The harsh fact is that the U.S. need for the highest quality human capital in science, mathematics, and engineering is not being met,” according to the Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security for the 21st Century, which makes a series of recommendations to improve the government’s ability to address the national security challenges of the new century. Several major recommendations from the commission deal with the nation’s scientific research and education enterprises (FYI: The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News, No. 23, March 1, 2001). 2. “It is in college where future scientists and college faculty are recruited and prepared for graduate study; where our nation’s elementary and secondary teachers, educators of America’s youth, are equipped; and where tomorrow’s leaders gain the background with which to make critical decisions in a world permeated by vital issues of science and technology.” See report from the NSF-supported Project Kaleidoscope, “What Works: Building Natural Science Communities, Vol. I,” 1991, available online at <http://www.pkal.org/template2.cfm?c_id=394>. 3. Nicholson, S., and P. Mulvey, American Institute of Physics Report R-394-7, September 2001. 4. Concerns about the loss of solar research faculty at research institutions such as the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Colorado were expressed in a report of the National Research Council (NRC, Ground-Based Solar Research: An Assessment and Strategy for the Future, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1998, pp. 4-5, available online at <http://www.nap.edu/catalog/9462.html>). While noting that institutions such as the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Montana State University had hired new faculty, the report expressed concern about the likely effect of a general loss of faculty on training for the next generation of graduate students, as well as about the state of university-based instrumentation programs, which are widely seen as essential to future instrument development and to the training of new researchers with hands-on experience. Finally, the report noted that “existing programs are few in number and rely on precarious grant-based funding” (p. 5). Overall, 3 percent of physics faculty members are retiring every year, and this rate is expected to increase (Ivie, R., K. Stowe, and R. Czujko, American Institute of Physics Report R-392-4, March 2001). 5. Asynchronous learning, also called location-independent learning, occurs when students learn the same material at different times and in different locations. The asynchronous learning environment provides students with teaching materials and tools for registration, instruction, and discussion. Asynchronous learning requires the ability to maintain communication without having to meet at the same place at the same time. Students attending a lecture or laboratory session together are participating in synchronous learning. See <http://www.engin.umich.edu/~cre/asyLearn/index.html>. 6. Richardson, John T.E., Researching Student Learning, Open University Press, 2000. 7. Physics Today, April 2001, p. 47. 8. “. . . many studies have shown that the undergraduate programs most successful at producing scientists are those that include research and publication in refereed journals. . . . Students who have the opportunity for research complete their science programs in greater numbers than those who do not” (Gavin, Robert, The role of research at undergraduate institutions: Why is it necessary to defend it?, Academic Excellence, M.P. Doyle, ed., Research Corporation, Tucson, Ariz., 2000). 9. Seymour, E., and N.M. Hewitt, Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences, Westview Press, 1997. 10. Tobias, S., They’re Not Dumb, They’re Different: Stalking the Second Tier, Research Corporation, Tucson, Ariz., 1990.
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11. NRC, Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1999. 12. Mazur, E., Peer Instruction, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1997; McDurmott, L.C., 1990: What we teach and what is learned—Closing the gap, American Journal of Physics 59, pp. 301-315, 1991; Redish, E., Implications of cognitive studies for teaching physics, American Journal of Physics 62, pp. 796-803, 1994; Redish, E., and N. Steinberg, Teaching physics: Figuring out what works, Physics Today, January 1999; and Mestre, J.P., Learning and instruction in pre-college physical science, Physics Today, September 1991. 13. National Science Teachers Association, College Pathways to the Science Education Standards, 2001; NRC, Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1999; NRC, Educating Teachers of Science, Mathematics, and Technology: New Practices for the New Millennium, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2000; National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century (the Glenn Commission), Before It’s Too Late, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C., 2000; “Prospective and practicing teachers must take science courses in which they learn science through inquiry, having the same opportunities as their students will have to develop understanding” (NRC, National Science Education Standards, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1996, p. 60). 14. NRC, Enhancing Undergraduate Learning with Information Technology, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2002. 15. NRC, National Science Education Standards, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1996. 16. NRC, Revolution in Earth and Space Science Education, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2002. 17. NRC, Science for All Children: A Guide to Improving Elementary Science Education in Your School District, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1997. 18. NSF, Geosciences Education: A Recommended Strategy, Washington, D.C., 1997. 19. For example, programs for advanced technological education and for course, curriculum, and laboratory improvement and the computer science, engineering, and mathematics scholarship program. 20. For example, the programs for informal science education, instructional materials development, and teacher enhancement. 21. An independent critique of the whole of the OSS’s education and public outreach program was made by S.B. Cohen and J. Gutbezahl from the Program Evaluation and Research Group, Lesley University. See S.B. Cohen, J. Gutbezahl, and J. Griffith, Office of Space Science Education/Public Outreach: Interim Evaluation Report, October 2001-June 2002, NASA, October 2002. 22. The 2001 report of OSS’s education and public outreach activities suggests 15 or so such solar and space physics activities out of about 60 total projects.
Representative terms from entire chapter: