Hampton, VA – With schools nationwide returning to virtual learning due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, the need to find quick and educational content is paramount. One NASA initiative looks to close the science-information gap.
“Teachers now more than ever need high-quality digital resources that are aligned to standards and engage students in critical skills like data analysis and interpretation,” said Jessica Taylor, a physical scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
My NASA Data is one of the few NASA Earth Science educator resources providing grade 3-12 teachers access to NASA mission data through unique tools that help students learn about Earth system science. The project’s value is providing NASA Earth science data resources that are teacher- and student-friendly.
“We know our resources are what teachers need because they tell us,” Taylor said. “We constantly check in with educators through our teacher product review team and the My NASA Data Educational Advisory Board. With their support we have added several new features that are Google Classroom ready and include interactive resources that teachers and students can use today.”
Dr. Christy Wall, a sixth-grade teacher at McCurdy Charter School in Española, New Mexico and a My NASA Data Advisory Board member, raves about the content available at the disposal of educators.
“The mini-lessons on My NASA Data have been a fantastic resource since we have moved to remote learning,” she said. “They are easy to integrate into either Google Classroom (and other remote classroom technologies), and it is so helpful to have the questions prepared.”
My NASA Data was created so that anyone can easily use a huge bank of satellite data. Through the use of the site’s Earth System Data Explorer (ESDE), a data visualization tool, users are able to generate plots, graphs, and other images to be used as needed.
“The website has something for everyone depending on how much time you want to spend on an activity or your comfort level with data literacy,” Taylor said. “For example, our mini-lessons are short and sweet; resources like our story maps provide basically a unit plan, and the Earth System Data Explorer supports students’ open-ended inquiry.”
My NASA Data is a unique effort within the agency, engaging a cross-disciplinary team of scientists, educators, and developers who leverage their diverse skills to create an interactive, data-rich resource specifically developed for classrooms and designed to meet the needs of teachers for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects.
The project’s team leverages data, visualizations, and related resources across the agency – including data from NASA’s Distributed Active Archive Centers, Earth Observatory, Science Visualization Studio, NASA’s Global Climate Change and others – then curates them by aligning to Next Generation Science Standards, organizes them by scientific concepts or phenomena, and edits resources to make them classroom-friendly.
These unique and flexible collections feature NASA data across Earth system spheres (i.e., atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere) allowing students to explore the interconnectedness of our Earth system.
Each of the Earth system sphere topics contains resources such as mini-lessons, full lesson plans, story maps, and data visualizations.
My NASA Data also features STEM Career Connections that provide career profiles of NASA employees, as well as different professions that support NASA Earth missions. The collections incorporate related GLOBE Program resources that support learning about these Earth system phenomena so that teachers and students may explore science from their schoolyard and so that GLOBE teachers can extend learning from local observations.
“My NASA Data has been a tremendous resource as I have made the move to remote learning,” Wall said. “It is so powerful to integrate real data into my lessons. I use the Data Literacy Cubes almost weekly to help my students learn to read graphs and maps.”
“This is an incredibly difficult time for teachers, students, and their families,” Taylor said. “We just want to make sure teachers know NASA has a resource designed for them to authentically engage students in NASA data.”
Select My NASA Data Resources:
- Relationship Between Surface Temperature and Vegetation Mini-Lesson: https://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/mini-lesson/relationship-between-surface-temperature-and-vegetation
- Urban Heat Island Story Map: https://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/lesson-plans/creation-urban-heat-islands-story-map
- Earth System Data Explorer: https://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/basic-page/data-collections-earth-system-data-explorer