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NASA Makerspace Playground: The Sky is Not the Limit!

Explore and create

Explore and create : Playground

Sunday, June 23, 1:30–4:30 pm
Location: NASA Playground, Street Level, Broad Street Atrium

Kyle Boyer   Troy Cline   Leslie Garrison   Eddie Gonzales   Abhishek Gorti   Patrick Haas   Kerry Handron   Michael Hutchinson   Abbey Interrante   Nancy Maryboy   Lou Mayo   Carolyn Ng   Dr. Sten Odenwald   Gary Paczosa   Kaushal Patel   Pat Reiff   Lani Sasser   Bryan Stephenson   Dr. Jen Sun   Jessica Swann   Trae Winter   C. Alex Young  
Experience an immersive NASA makerspace where NASA scientists, engineers and educators invite you to explore how new technologies are impacting the world around us and discover how to connect rich and engaging NASA content into your STEM activities. Walk into new worlds with virtual reality, learn about NASA 3D prints, learn how to use your smartphone to make meaningful scientific measurements and check out other stations found in NASA’s STEM Innovation Lab!

Audience: Coaches, Professional developers, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Maker activities and programs
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
Innovative Designer
  • Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

ISTE attendees will have an immersive experience, using existing and emerging technologies to better understand space science concepts, NASA missions, and have access to NASA space science resources and activities. Each station will serve to connect educators and students to real-world learning through NASA space science, while generating deeper interests in STEM topics.


Sunday PM Flash Talks

2 pm Technology Enabling Astronomy Accessibility to the Blind and Visually Impaired

Presented by Dr. Henry “Trae” Winter, III, Astrophysicist, Center for Astrophysics with Harvard and Smithsonian Inst.
In this flash talk we discuss technologies, new and old, that are making astronomical images more accessible to traditionally underrepresented populations including people who are blind and visually impaired. We discuss the importance of good design in technology enabled STEM products, especially products that are attempting to reach audiences with specific learning needs and the importance of including members of your target audience in every step of the design process.

3 pm Exploration of the Outer Solar System

Presented by Lou Mayo, NASA Astronomer & Professor of Astronomy at Marymount Univ. 

We have now visited every planet in the solar system plus many small bodies, including asteroids, comet and Kuiper Belt Objects. Deep Space missions to the outer planets have shed new light on our solar system, its formation and evolution, and the potential for life outside the Earth. In this talk, we will touch on many of the new discoveries being made and the technologies that have made them possible including magnetometry, spectroscopy, and radio and laser communications.

4 pm Bringing NASA Data Alive with Coding and Electronics!

Presented by Kaushal Patel, NASA Space Science Education Consortium (NSSEC) Web Developer; Abhishek Gorti, NASA Coding Engineer Intern 

Have you ever wondered how to bring real NASA data into your learning environment through meaningful coding and electronics activities? During this presentation you will hear from one of NASA's web developers about how he is exploring a variety of ways that data can be visualized. Sample projects include the use of Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Wi-Fi Enabled Lighting and more.


Explore a variety of existing and emerging technologies, through hands-on experiences, and investigate how they can effectively impact STEM education.

Create new opportunities for learners that utilize existing and emerging technologies, coupled with the rich and engaging NASA content.

Share innovative ideas that can be replicated with other educators, researchers and makerspace enthusiasts. A QR code at each station will provide a canvas for uses to demonstrate “citizen explorers” by sharing possible ideas.

Check out these stations!
Virtual Reality and Mixed Media: Immerse yourself in a NASA clean room with spacecraft and instrumentation or walk on the surface of Mars. Virtual and Mixed Reality allows for expanded access to NASA and space science, beyond what can be experienced by most citizens. Walk into new worlds and let your imagination soar!

3D Printing: Rapid cycle prototyping is a critical element of the iterative design process, utilized by makerspace enthusiasts and NASA scientist. Conceptualizing, designing, and creating three-dimensional products is changing the design and problem solving learning landscape for students. Come and see how!

Paper Cutting: Through the use of computers, you can now easily design intricate 2D and 3D objects including pop-ups, working machines, buildings, wind turbines, automata, paper airplanes, speakers, model skateboard parks, and more.

Coding and Electronics: Build and program a microcontroller-driven volumetric display to present science data, such as space weather alerts.

Mobile Sensors: Sensors and probes extend our ability to measure and visualize data related to the world around us. Mobile sensors are easily available on your cell phone and can be used to transform the manner by which learners can observe, evaluate, and make conclusions. Our sensorware applications measure magnetic field strength, light intensity, sound levels, acceleration, and more. Come and see how!

Digital Learning Environments and Applications: Today’s educational landscape is greatly impacted by the wealth of information that is available online through a growing variety of web applications like Infiniscope, virtual environments and gaming resources, like Whyville. Imagine the possibilities when you infuse these resources with NASA content and data!

Planetarium Shows: Immerse yourself in this interactive mobile planetarium experience. Explore Navajo Skies and how indigenous cultures have understood astronomy. Witness an Apollo mission liftoff from Earth and from the Moon. Come join us as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo missions.

Assistive Tech and Soundscapes: In August of 2017 an estimated 215 million people watched the total eclipse of the Sun as it crossed from one coast of the country to the other. However, before the eclipse occurred, it was realized that over seven million people who are blind or have severe visual impairments might have no way to experience the eclipse alongside their sighted friends and family. The Eclipse Soundscapes Project addressed this need by creating a free mobile app that made the eclipse come alive for everyone including the blind and visually impaired by using multi-sensory technology and good design practices. Come feel and hear a solar eclipse and discover how the lessons learned are being used to make all of astronomy more accessible for everyone.

Supporting research


More [+]


Kyle Boyer, NASA

Kyle Boyer is a VR developer for the STEM Innovation lab. He provides the programming for visualization of 3D, data driven models.

Troy Cline, NASA

Troy Cline is the director of the NASA STEM Innovation Lab. He is responsible for all areas of lab design, development, and operation. He is also the Educational Technology Lead for NSSEC.

Leslie Garrison, NASA GSFC

Leslie L. Garrison is the Sr. Outreach Coordinator for the NASA MMS Mission. She has more than 20 years experience teaching, coaching, mentoring and facilitating professional development for students, educators, and teachers and has been recognized as Teacher of the Year, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and Edu-carer of the Year.

Eddie Gonzales, NASA

Eddie Gonzales is a travel lab onsite logistics lead providing planning and administrative support for replication of the lab in other informal venues.

Abhishek Gorti, NASA

Abhishek Gorti is an intern from the US Naval Academy working in the NASA STEM Innovation Lab. He specializes in coding and electronics, as well as designs and creates new uses of educational technology projects.

Patrick Haas, NASA

Patrick Haas provides engineering design and support for the lab. He specializes in 3D modeling and printing along with scientific instrument system design.

Kerry Handron, Rice University

Kerry Handron has M.S. in Space Physics and Astronomy from Rice University.  She worked at Carnegie Museum of Natural History and now operates a rental program with live programming for portable planetariums based out of Pittsburgh.

Michael Hutchinson, ePlanetarium

Michael Hutchinson is CFO for ePlanetarium and has volunteered many hours performing outreach in the Discovery Dome. 

Abbey Interrante, NASA

Abbey Interrante is the Science Writer for NSSEC. She creates and implements communication plans and content across all areas of the program.

Nancy Maryboy, Indigenous Education Institute

Dr. Nancy Maryboy is the Founding President and Executive Director of the Indigenous Education Institute. She is also a professor at the University of Washington, in the School of Environmental Sciences and Forestry. She is Navajo and Cherokee.

Lou Mayo, NASA

Lou Mayo is an astronomer in the Heliophysics Branch at Goddard Space Flight Center and professor of astronomy at Marymount University. Lou is the Program Manager for NSSEC tasked with engaging the public with NASA science.

Carolyn Ng, NASA

Carolyn Ng leads informal education for NSSEC, coordinating STEM engagement activities that will reach the general public through a variety of programs and events. She also works with specialized communities like indigenous groups and learners of all ability levels.

Dr. Sten Odenwald, NASA

Dr. Sten Odenwald is an astrophysicist and award-winning science popularizer who was involved with science education for the COBE, IMAGE, Hinode and InSight spacecraft, as well as the Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum. He is currently the Director of Citizen Science for NSSEC.

Gary Paczosa, ePlanetarium

Gary Paczosa is Sales Director for for ePlanetarium and has volunteered many hours performing outreach in the Discovery Dome. 

Kaushal Patel, NASA

Kaushal Patel is a Web Developer for NSSEC. He is responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining the visual and functional elements of the STEM Innovation Lab website.

Pat Reiff, Rice University

Dr. Pat Reiff is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University.  She is a space scientist and member of NASA’s MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission) science  team and the NASA NSSEC outreach team. She has been involved in the creation of ten fulldome planetarium shows and is CEO of a NASA spinoff company marketing portable eplanetariums.

Lani Sasser, NASA

Lani Sasser is a technology specialist supporting the NASA STEM Innovation Lab. She specializes in Information Science, lab administration, and developmental logistics for the travel lab.

Bryan Stephenson, NASA

Bryan Stephenson is a Senior IT specialist for the lab. He supervises and is responsible for all IT and web development and leads the development of VR/AR applications.

Dr. Jen Sun, Numedeon, Creators of Whyville

Dr. Sun is a co-founder and President of Numedeon, Inc., the creator of Whyville, the first educational virtual world for tweens. Dr. Sun oversees the design and production of all educational games and activities in Whyville, working closely with sponsors and collaborators to develop innovative ways to engage students in STEM.

Jessica Swann, Center for Education Through Exploration

Jessica Swann is the Community Manager for the NASA-funded Infiniscope project out of Arizona State University. She is responsible for recruiting and training educators, Infiniscope marketing and communications, curriculum development around digital learning experiences, and the management of a portal hosting the community and resources. She is also the Program Manager of Digital Teaching Networks for the ETX Center at ASU.

Trae Winter, Center for Astrophysics| Smithsonian

Dr. Henry "Trae" Winter III is an astrophysicist working for the Center for Astrophysics with the Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) who has worked on eight NASA missions observing the Sun. His current work involves designing science-based museum exhibits and art pieces and building technological solutions to make astronomy and astrophysics more accessible to everyone including people who are blind and visually impaired.

C. Alex Young, NASA

Dr. Alex Young is the Associate Director for Science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the head of NASA Space Science Education Consortium (NSSEC). In this role, he is responsible for overseeing and coordinating national education and public outreach in the Goddard Heliophyiscs Science Division as well as for the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters.

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