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Main | Activity 2-1 | Activity 2-2

ACTIVITY 2-1: Align the Science

If you are designing your product for NASA, explore the following sites and identify a NASA research question and dataset. The question and resource you select become two of the parameters for your design.

NASA Mission Directorates* (Mahone & Jacobs, 2004)

NASA has restructured strategic enterprises into mission directorates to better support its vision (see NASA’s Current Missions). The four mission directorates are:

  • Aeronautics Research: Research and develop aeronautical technologies for safe, reliable, and efficient aviation systems.

  • Science: Carry out the scientific investigation of the Earth, moon, Mars, and beyond; chart the best route of discovery; and reap the benefits of Earth and space exploration for society.

  • Exploration Systems: Develop capabilities and supporting research and technology that enable sustained and affordable human and robotic exploration; include the biological and physical research necessary to ensure the health and safety of crew during long duration spaceflight.

  • Space Operations: Direct spaceflight operations, space launches, and space communications as well as the operation of integrated systems in low-Earth orbit and beyond.

*Note: The links above lead you to the most recent descriptions of NASA research efforts in the four directorates. Work with your facilitator if you have trouble locating up-to-date information.

Once you have identified a potential research question, contact a scientist as a content expert or an educator/educational specialist if you are a scientist. The scientist plays a valuable role as a member of your design team for numerous reasons. The scientist will:

  • Enable you to have greater access to data.
  • Provide firsthand insights into the actual investigation.
  • Ensure the authenticity and accuracy of the curricular content.
  • Identify and elaborate on the investigation questions driving the research.
  • Point out other related investigations that might be more interesting or appropriate.
  • Align your product with NASA criteria B.4 (see Virtual Design Center Step 2: NASA Criteria Connect).

Some strategies for enlisting a scientist/educator are 1) contacting the education outreach branch of the NASA mission directorate for a recommendation, 2) asking for recommendations to your Virtual Design Center facilitator, and 3) working with the Center for Educational Technologies Mid-Atlantic Regional Space Science Broker program to identify and contact an appropriate scientist/educator.

Deliverable 2-1: Description of the Science

Download the Science Outline. Fill in the outline with your research question, your resources, such as datasets, and the scientist you identified. You submit this form after completing deliverable 2-2.

Review the following examples of deliverables for activity 2-1. The first is a NASA-sponsored Classroom of the Future project. Examples 2, 3 and 4 are deliverables submitted by previous Virtual Design Center participants. (Note: Examples 2-4 were produced when NASA was organized under enterprises; thus, these designers specified their research questions by enterprise rather than directorates.)

Continue to Activity 2-2.

Main | Activity 2-1 | Activity 2-2


Mahone, G., & Jacobs, B. (2004). Administrator unveils next steps of NASA transformation. Retrieved June 26, 2004, from


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