SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Gary Arora, Zakia Bouachraoui, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

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WGBH Launches New Digital Resources in its “Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms” Educational Initiative in Collaboration with NASA

WGBH, a leading producer of educational digital media, has released a new collection of interactive K-12 digital resources through its “Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms” initiative. This year’s collection, Space Science, was produced as part of a five-year, $10 million cooperative agreement awarded to WGBH from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The new Space science collection, including over 50 resources, launched August 15. Key topics include sun, moon, and star patterns in the sky, touring the galaxy, and understanding Kepler’s laws. The goal of the project is to design and test innovative new instructional approaches that use digital media to engage diverse learners in scientific practices.

The launch of the new Space resources follows the initial release of Earth Science content in August 2017. Developed in collaboration with NASA, with input from a national group of 50 teacher advisors, the Earth Science resources have been accessed more than 200,000 times by almost 30,000 users from all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the first year.

“WGBH has long been a leader in producing educational media, especially in science and STEM,” said WGBH Director of STEM Education and Project Principal Investigator Rachel Connolly. “Our collaboration with NASA allows us to draw on their unique expertise and research, ensuring the collection offers the most up-to-date, cutting-edge science resources.”

The free educational resources are designed to be flexible and include teacher support materials that aid instructional use and integration in the classroom. Lesson plans for every grade band illustrate effective uses of media. Support materials, including background essays, video transcripts, and resources for English language learners and students with disabilities using assistive technologies, are available throughout the collection and are designed to engage and support diverse learners.

Through content drawn from NASA agencies as well as WGBH’s signature programs such as NOVA and PEEP & the Big Wide World, students are encouraged to explore and engage with science phenomena through a range of innovative media, including data visualizations, satellite images, videos, and interactive formats.

WGBH worked with other NASA partners and teams to develop new, data-rich digital media for these resources. A video journey through the galaxy and universe based on real data and computer modeling was created in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences. A student version of the popular Helioviewer Solar Data Tool, providing students with current solar data, was developed with the NASA Space Science Education Consortium at Goddard, and an original data visualization that demonstrates Kepler’s laws of planetary motion was developed with the NASA Science Visualization Studio at Goddard Space Flight Center.

“For NASA Science, inspiring all learners to actively participate in understanding nature and advancing knowledge is what it’s all about. Fostering an online environment for collaboration and access supports that goal,” said Kristen Erickson, science engagement and partnerships director at NASA. “WGBH has a proven record of success, not only in developing quality digital media but ensuring the resources are accessible for all, especially educators.” Bringing the Universe into America’s Classrooms resources are distributed free of charge through PBS LearningMedia to more than 1.6 million registered educators and their students across the country. The resources are aligned to Next Generation Science Standards and emphasize student engagement with core ideas and practices. The full collection of almost 200 resources is available on PBS LearningMedia at www.pbslearningmedia.org/universe.

“These resources are developed using a rigorous process that involves teacher surveys, multiple iterations, close collaboration with NASA and partners, and careful review of the science and pedagogy,” said Seeta Pai, Executive Director of Education at WGBH. “When we first launched the collection in August 2017 with the Earth resources, we anticipated there would be high interest in the quality programs and assets. Now with the space resources, we’re supporting the enthusiastic acceptance of the collection with research for continuous improvement.”

About WGBH
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur and more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater BostonBasic Black and High School Quiz Show. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB Classical Radio Boston; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational multimedia and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org.

About PBS LearningMedia
As America’s most trusted institution and number-one educational media brand, PBS is committed to supporting teachers on their journey to spark students’ curiosity. PBS LearningMedia, a partnership of PBS and WGBH Educational Foundation, is an online destination that offers free access to thousands of resources from PBS stations and partners. These digital tools are designed to enhance classroom instruction -- from videos, images, and interactives, to lesson plans, articles, and primary sources. Available to all educators pre-K through 12th grade, PBS LearningMedia offers classroom-ready content aligned to state and national standards, compatible with the tools teachers use most, such as Google Classroom, and contextualized with supporting materials. Each month, more than one million unique users visit PBS LearningMedia to enhance teaching practice and support student learning. Learn more at pbslearningmedia.org.

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