Creating Professional Development for Informal and K–12 Educators

The results of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate surveys help science education professional development providers successfully work with educators.


NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) explores the Earth, the Sun, our solar system, the galaxy, and beyond through four divisions: Earth science, heliophysics, planetary science, and astrophysics. Teams of education and public outreach (EPO) specialists work alongside NASA scientists to develop and implement programs and resources designed to inspire and educate students, teachers, and the public.

From 2009 to 2015, NASA’s SMD EPO Forums coordinated and supported overall EPO efforts for each of the SMD divisions. The Forums also convened working groups to conduct national surveys of their audiences—informal educators and K–12 teachers—to help science education professional development providers increase their capacity for success in working with those audiences. The working groups were composed of both NASA-funded EPO professionals and advisory members from outside NASA.

Two surveys were conducted: one in 2013 for the professional development workshop and resource needs of informal educators, and another for K–12 educators in 2012. Key findings are found below. The full reports for informal educators and K–12 educators are available online.

Key findings

The survey for informal educators found:

The survey for formal educators found that this group:

The NASA SMD EPO Informal Education Working Group was led by the Space Telescope Science Institute, in collaboration with the Multiverse group at the University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Lab; the Lunar and Planetary Institute; and the Institute for Global and Environmental Strategies.


The Cross-Forum working groups were funded by the NASA Cooperative Agreements #NNX09AQ09A, #NNX09AQ10A, #NNX09AQ11A, and #NNX09AQ12A.