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.

Formal Education:

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 taught properly.

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.