VAO Education and Public Outreach
The VAO: New Resource in Education and Public Outreach
The VAO E/PO program is led by the Space Telescope Science Institute
(STScI) in collaboration with the NASA Goddard High Energy
Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) E/PO program and
the Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
VAO E/PO efforts seek to bring
technology, real-world astronomical data, and the story of the
development and infrastructure of the VAO to the general public and
education community. Our E/PO efforts will be structured to provide
uniform access to VAO information, enabling educational and research
opportunities across multiple portions of the electromagnetic spectrum
and time-series data sets.
The VAO project is
well suited to exploring science, technology, engineering, and math-based subjects, since the project relies considerably on using
computers and technology to enhance our abilities to elucidate
scientific concepts (which rely heavily upon mathematics). We are
providing a resource to the general public, educators, and students
that was not there before. For the first time ever, anyone can have
equal and open access to real astronomical data, so long as they have
an internet connection.
The VAO E/PO team is working with the VAO community, the larger
international VO community, and outside organizations to utilize tools
appropriate for the high school and community college students.
The VAO E/PO effort will provide the high-school and community college
communities with a way to understand STEM concepts via curriculum
support tools that use real astronomical data and are aligned with
national standards and benchmarks.
The VAO E/PO team offers professional educators the benefit
of professional astronomers, who work in concert with them. It is not enough to create materials and hope they are
used and used properly. A good formal education program must ensure
that students are truly benefitting from the materials and receiving proper
instruction. For this reason, the VAO formal education program's
implementation strategy includes needs assessments to be sure we are
meeting the needs of educators, aligning with national benchmarks and
standards, and offering professional development opportunities for educators so
they understand how to properly use the materials. Finally, we conduct impact
studies to be sure that our materials are effective and are being
The VAO E/PO program aims to meet the needs of high-school
and community college educators and students. Our formal education
program utilizes many VO tools, including Microsoft's WWT,
Aladin, Data Discovery Tool, and others.