Multiverse Blog

Hilarie Davis
/ Categories: In-Focus, Helio Forum

Reflections on Evaluating the Work of NASA SMD Education Professionals

[This is one of a series of blog posts about our six-year involvement leading the NASA Heliophysics Science Education and Public Outreach Forum. ]

Evaluation for the NASA Science Mission Directorate Heliophysics Forum focused on the three main goals: 1) Engage and develop the education and public outreach (EPO) community,  2) Analyze heliophysics EPO products and projects, and 3) Coordinate communication about EPO work. Through multiple evaluation activities over multiple years, we found the Forum was able to support the EPO community with professional development, an online community of practice, collaborative projects, and a database of resources. Community members became more engaged over time with each other and with the forum’s activities. They asked for, and received professional development on topics such as social media, scientist engagement, misconceptions, evaluation, NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards), product review, 508 compliance (accessibility), and storytelling.  They met monthly online, and yearly face-to-face, and collaborative projects grew out of that to co-host events, develop new initiatives, and share audiences.

The four forums identified and developed an online workspace and a database of resources, called NASA Wavelength, that are used extensively by both the community and their audiences. The concept of a “forum” to connect SMD educators and scientists doing EPO worked quite well. Every year in our annual survey, we heard from the community that there were benefits to knowing each other and their work better. They improved their own skills, delivered better programs, and constantly got new ideas from their colleagues. Over the six-year life of the Forum, they became a true "community of practice."

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