2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:30 AM


MARKS, Steven K., AESP-NASA and School of Educational Studies, Oklahoma State Univ, 309 Cordell, Stillwater, OK 74078 and VITEK, John D., Academic Affairs and School of Geology, Oklahoma State Univ, 101 Whitehurst, Stillwater, OK 74078, smarks@aesp.nasa.okstate.edu

At the research frontier, be that frontier the realm of outer space or the inner space of Earth, scientists constantly generate new knowledge, all of which enters the educational system but at various levels and details. The nature of research, in part, determines the utility of the information and the speed at which it is applied. Within NASA, the focus of research occupies many niches, including science education. Platforms in space, such as the satellites or the Space Station, permit scientists to collect global data for a variety of purposes. The nature of research often determines how the data are employed and the impact they have on the educational processes and learning.

To communicate knowledge, it first must be acquired. Given its broad mission, NASA asks scientists to categorize their research such that the knowledge generated enhance learning throughout society. Six categories of research are embodied in the NASA mission. In basic research, scientists seek knowledge only for the sake of knowledge. The Hubble telescope provides images that often raise more questions than they answer. Fundamental research seeks useful knowledge, such as characteristics of the ocean. Exploratory research attempts to identify perceived useful knowledge, an example being the acquisition imagery to identify mineral composition of rocky surfaces. Applied research pursues practical objectives, such as experiments in space sent directly into K-12 classrooms. Programmatic research seeks and provides knowledge for a mission such as what sensors are capable of detecting buried ice. Finally, industrial research attempts to achieve economic benefits, such as interpreting geologic structure to enhance mineral exploration. The nature of research influences the knowledge created and how it can enhance science education. In all instances, learning contributes to the refinement of the processes and procedures in subsequent research and thereby expands the research frontier. Science education is a primary NASA mission.