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NASA Playground: Engage with Space Science!

Explore and create

Explore and create : Playground

Saturday, December 5, 7:30–9:00 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Sherry Bosch  
Mark Brown  
Dr. Rhonda Christensen  
Sarah Eyermann  
Leslie Garrison  
Dr. Gerald Knezek  
Dr. Paula Leach  
David Lockett  
Christina Milotte  
Sara Mitchell  
Dr. Sten Odenwald  
Kaushal Patel  
Dr. Stephanie Playton  
Lani Sasser  
Ben Smith  
Denise Wright  

NASA staff and educators will demonstrate innovative ways to bring space science activities to your classroom or virtual teaching. Discover how to connect educational technologies to NASA STEAM activities. Get up close with Parker Solar Probe using AR with Merge Cubes to study the sun’s corona, help get Maggie the canine to Mars with virtual reality, engage families with family science night virtual activities, find out how to connect to NASA’s STEAM Innovation Lab PLN, and more!

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Topic: Maker activities & programs
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
Innovative Designer
  • Students develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
Computational Thinker
  • Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

ISTE attendees will have an engaging 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.


NASA experts will present six STEAM projects that educators can bring back to their classrooms or virtually at the NASA Playground during ISTE20 Live, on Dec.5.

The projects include virtual and augmented reality explorations of NASA missions as well as information on robotics, coding, family science nights and citizen science.

Each project will be presented by a NASA expert and an ISTE educator and will feature a replicable lesson or learning activity that educators can use right away.

The projects will be presented simultaneously during 30-minute blocks and repeated two more times so that participants can attend three live sessions and watch recordings of the other three.

The NASA Playground will take place at ISTE20 Live on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 7:30 a.m.-9 a.m. PT (10:30 a.m.-noon ET).

6 STEAM Projects From NASA and ISTE:

Maggie Goes to Mars. Explore a gamified AR/VR challenge for students that allows them to help get the canine, Maggie, to Mars.

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot; Up Close with the Sun. Observing the Sun through Parker Solar Probe - Augmented reality using Merge Cube to learn more about how NASA is studying the sun's Corona.

Family Science Night, Virtual Edition. Learn how NASA's Family Science Night curriculum can be delivered virtually to get families to engage with space science. A sample exercise: What items would be essential if you were making a trip to the moon?

A Night Under the Stars. Contribute to NASA Citizen Science by learning how to take pictures with your Smartphone of the night sky and the effects of light pollution on Astronomy.

Making Sense of our Planets. Robotic Sensors allow NASA to study space and planetary objects. Explore K-12 lessons that help your students code robotic sensors.

Space Storm Warning! Visualizing Space Weather's impact on Earth - Wifi-enabled coding can help your students see when space weather hits Earth's Magnetosphere or other NASA data sets.

The NASA Playground will also promote the launch of the new NASA STEAM Innovation Lab PLN, a private Facebook group for NASA scientists and educators to collaborate and share ways to use educational technologies to help teach space science concepts and make NASA science accessible to all learners.

This work is made possible through a cooperative grant between ISTE and the NASA Space Science Education Consortium (NSSEC).

Supporting research

Inside the lab are variety of interchangeable STEM exploration stations fitted with technologies typically found in many of today’s 21st century educational environments. Each exploration station is associated with one or more Exploration Idea Profiles, which are provided by self-selected teams that use the technology for their projects or programs. Users may pick one or more stations to explore, read the profiles and investigate how new and existing technologies can be effectively blended together for greater impact and integration into NASA education programs and products.

More [+]


Sherry Bosch, ISTE

Sherry Bosch is a connection maker! As a professional learning ISTE project manager, Sherry has managed ISTE’s partnership work with NASA over the past 8 years. Sherry has produced many ISTE webinars, virtual workshops, and virtual conferences, as well as managed online courses, offering replicable instructional strategies based on the ISTE Standards for educators and leaders to transform teaching and learning.

Mark Brown, NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador

Mark is an ISTE STEM PLN Leader and NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador who has been involved in formal and informal education for 25 years. He is an astronomer, geologist, and planetarian who is passionate about conducting educational public outreach and bringing the concepts of science and astronomy down to the human level of understanding. Mark is also an avid photographer and astro-photographer who enjoys observing and imaging the night sky through his telescopes and cameras. For Mark, it is the darkness and beauty of the night sky that brings light to his day.

Dr. Rhonda Christensen, University of North Texas

Rhonda Christensen, Ph.D. is Research Professor in the Learning Technologies Department in the College of Information at the University of North Texas. She is a co-director of the Institute for the Integration of Technology into Teaching and Learning. Her research interests include the impact of technology integration in education, enhancing STEM education in middle schools, and mobile learning in education. Rhonda was an elementary classroom teacher for 3 years and an instructional technology specialist in a preK-8 school for 4 years. She has been teaching technology integration to preservice and inservice teachers for more than 20 years.

Sarah Eyermann, CRESST/Univ. of Maryland & NASA Goddard

Since 2008, Sarah Eyermann has used her physics/astronomy Master's degree to develop curricula and resources about NASA science for out-of-school time audiences. She has also presented professional development workshops at a number of conferences about NASA's free education resources.

Leslie Garrison, NASA GSFC

Leslie 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 trainings. As a NASA Outreach Coordinator, Leslie has the pleasure of supporting youth groups, the general public, educators/pre-service teachers in the USA and abroad. She is a member of the NASA Space Science Education Consortium (NSSEC) and the NASA Goddard Speakers Bureau. Leslie supports several NASA education groups such as the NASA Goddard STEAM Innovation Lab, the NASA Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) and NASAs Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).

Dr. Gerald Knezek, University of North Texas

Dr. Gerald Knezek is Regents Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas ( and Co-Director of the Institute for the Integration of Technology into Teaching & Learning ( He is a former Co-Chair of the ISTE International Committee and Past President of the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (

Dr. Paula Leach, Longwood ITTIP

Dr. Paula Klonowski Leach is the director of Longwood University’s Institute for Teaching through Technology and Innovative Practices (ITTIP). She has lent her expertise on K-12 projects at the local, state, national, and international levels including project development, instructional delivery for adults and students related to STEM content, project management, and as a member of multiple state STEM organization boards. Dr. Leach is also an ISTE STEM PLN Leader and NASA Solar System Ambassador.

David Lockett, School of Applied Computational Sciences

David Lockett has served as an elementary and middle STEM and Computer Science teacher 15 years. As a national leader in STEM, leading both statewide and national initiatives. Lockett’s philosophy of “STEM for ALL” has been at the heart of his STEM outreach and advocacy work. He is currently an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow.

Christina Milotte, NASA

Ms. Milotte joined the NASA team in late 2018 as an education specialist with over a decade of science education experience. She brings a wealth of knowledge about engaging students, ages 10 and up, in science exploration in a variety of educational settings, including public, private, and higher education institutions, as well as extensive knowledge in engaging students in outdoor educational experiences. Her diverse professional educator portfolio includes a variety of leadership roles, with an emphasis on mentoring and inspiring teachers to incorporate authentic learning challenges into their curricula.

Sara Mitchell, CRESST/University of Maryland/NASA GSFC

Sara Mitchell leads the Astrophysics Education Team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. For the past 17 years, she has developed educational resources, focusing especially on engaging families and underserved audiences. Sara co-founded the NASA Family Science Night program in 2006, and has led the program since 2013.

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 currently works with the NASA Space Science Education Consortium to create innovative educator resources featuring smartphone technology and topics in basic math, physics and space science. His math resources can be found at SpaceMath@NASA located at

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.

Dr. Stephanie Playton, Longwood ITTIP

Stephanie is a STEM Learning Specialist at Longwood University's ITTIP where she focuses on providing STEM learning experiences for teachers and students in the PK-12 environments. She is currently a PhD candidate working on validating a STEM Career Interest Survey for grades 2-4. Additional research interests include global education experiences, computer science and computational thinking concepts. Stephanie is also an ISTE STEM PLN Leader and NASA Solar System Ambassador.

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.

Ben Smith, Lincoln Intermediate Unit 12
ISTE Certified Educator
Denise Wright, Horry County Schools

Denise Wright, is a STEM Educator in Myrtle Beach, SC . She is a member of ISTE STEM , IVC leadership teams, volunteers for NASA as a Solar System Ambassador, piloted a distance learning telescope to be used in classrooms across South Carolina, and founded the amateur astronomy group, Grand Strand Astronomers in her local community. Denise, was recently appointed to the National Astronomy Educator Coordinators Team with the IAU and attended the 2018 launch of NASA's Parker Solar Probe. Her passions include astronomy, artificial intelligence, and learning about emerging technologies. She is an author for NSTA's Science Scope. Her column is called "The Online Teacher."

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