- June 27, 2022
NASA's Education Efforts Can't Seem To Find One Another Easily
Keith’s note: By now you must be bored with my daily critique of how NASA organizes and presents itself to the public, policy makers, news media, and the rest of the world – especially when it comes to education. (see Fixing Education And Outreach At NASA. Part 1: STEM Engagement Office) To virtually everyone, everywhere, NASA.gov online resources are how people learn what NASA does – and where they go to find out what it can do for them. As such you’d expect that the agency would spend the resources needed to put forth the best online face. Guess again. (see NASA’s Web Presence is An Amazing Mess).
As you may know the Trump Administration tried to defund the NASA Education Office. But Congress thwarted that. But in a compromise to sooth some political issues they changed the name to the “NASA STEM Engagement Office”. While the name is not exactly obvious, whatever you call NASA’s main education organization should be the focal point for the agency’s education efforts – STEM and otherwise.
That said, the NASA STEM Engagement Office only links to some of the agency’s ongoing educational activities and many of the field centers, directorates, missions, and other programs with overt educational interests and content, do not bother to link back to the NASA STEM Engagement Office. And if they do link back they do so indirectly and rely on a web visitor to guess where the link is. And in the case of NASA JPL, well, they simply ignore NASA HQ. But that is another story.
Now there is talk of a massive infrastructure bill to be prosed by the White House which seeks to revitalize things all throughout the government and the economy. Maybe NASA can grab some of that funding and focus it on its education and outreach problems – and not on yet another shiny office building for SES and GS-15 employees.
Here’s my latest flyby analysis of how badly NASA coordinates its education activities online. It is hard to see more than a superficial semblance of an agency-wide coherent approach to presenting and integrating education and outreach. But you already knew that, right?
The NASA STEM Engagement Office has a page that links to other education pages across NASA.
At the following NASA field centers there is no direct link to the “NASA STEM Engagement Office”. You have to guess that if you go to the top of the engage to the generic NASA header, pull down NASA “Audiences” and click on “for educators” or “for students” that you end up somewhere that has the agency’s main site for educational management and information. Notice that nearly every NASA field center refers to their educational resource page with the word “education”.
– Ames Education and Public Engagement (only has main NASA website header “audience” link)
– About STEM Engagement at Johnson (only has main NASA website header “audience” link)
– Marshall STEM Engagement: K-12 Education Opportunities (only has main NASA website header “audience” link)
Stennis Education Gateway (only has main NASA website header “audience” link)
– Kennedy Public Engagement Center (only has main NASA website header “audience” link)
– NASA Langley Education (only has main NASA website header “audience” link)
– Education Resources & Programs – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (has no link to NASA HQ STEM or HQ education at all)
– NASA Michoud (has no education page)
These centers have a link but not necessarily to the actual NASA STEM Engagement main page:
– Armstrong Office of Stem Engagement (links to subpage at NASA HQ STEM site)
– Directorate Education at Wallops (link on left hand side)
– Goddard’s Office of Education (links to a page of other NASA center education links but not the main STEM page at HQ)
– Explore STEM Opportunities at Glenn Research Center link at bottom of the page
The NASA STEM Engagement Office has a page that links to other mission directorate pages and resources across NASA.
– NASA Aeronautics Media resources (no link toNASA STEM Engagement Office)
– NASA Human Exploration and Operations Exploration Education and Outreach (has side link to NASA STEM Engagement Office)
– NASA Science Mission Directorate – (simply goes to SMD main page which uses the word “learners” in its top menu but does not link back to the NASA STEM Engagement Office)
– Space Technology Mission Directorate (simply goes to an “about Us” page with no link to education or the NASA STEM Engagement Office).
The NASA STEM Engagement Office has a page that links to other resources across NASA.
– 2020 NASA List of Minority Serving Institutions (no link to education or the NASA STEM Engagement Office)
– NASA Strategy for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement 2020-2023 (no link to education or the NASA STEM Engagement Office)
– NASA Strategy for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Engagement 2018-2020 (no link to education or the NASA STEM Engagement Office)
– Performance Assessment and Reports (left hand link)
– NASA Advisory Council STEM Engagement Committee (no link to education or the NASA STEM Engagement Office)
This page at NASA STEM Engagement Office makes no mention of:
– National Space Grant and Fellowship Project
– List of Science Education Partners for NASA STEM Agreements (SMD – out of date)
– NASA College Scholarship Fund
– NASA Interns and Fellowships
– NASA Academy
– NASA Students and Recent Graduates
– NASA at Home
– and so on.