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Journey through the Universe
Program Overview
The Learning Community Model
Program Overview
Professional Development
Classroom Visits
Family and Public Programs
Provided Resources
National Standards
The Organization
Program Delivery Teams
Milestones and Achievements
Learning Community Network
Build Your Program
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Program Overview

Journey through the Universe is a national science education initiative that engages entire communities—students, teachers, families, and the public—using education Timothy Livengood, Ph.D.programs in the Earth and space sciences and space exploration to inspire and educate. The initiative embraces the notion that—it takes a community to educate a child, which is the basis for the program’s Learning Community Model of program delivery.

The program is overseen by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (the Center).

We offer an array of grade K-12 programming, curricular content, and resources that a community can use to create a customized Journey through the Universe program—reflecting their strategic needs in STEM education, growing from local standards of teaching and learning and NCLB; that can be delivered systemically across an entire school district; and is designed to be sustainable.


I wish that every community could have a Journey program as dynamic, successful, and powerful as ours has become. We are going into our fourth year in 2008, and Journey is now a flagship educational program in Hawai’i. Due to sustainability planning, we now have 33 local astronomers and astronomy educators that will visit our 340 classrooms during Journey Week 2008. We are holding a Family Science Event for 1,200 at the new Imiloa Astronomy Education Center, and will train over 100 local area teachers.

The community continues to support our effort. We are now receiving funding from Bank of Hawaii, Rotary Clubs, Chamber of Commerce(s), Business-Education Partnerships, and the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board.

Janice Harvey, Journey Local Team Leader
Gemini North Observatory
Hilo, Hawai’i

Visit Journey through the Universe on the Big Island of Hawai'i.


Journey through the Universe content addresses exploration of the Solar System, galaxy, and Universe; Earth systems science; the search for extraterrestrial life; building a permanent human presence in space; and engineering for spaceflight. The content resides in a library of Grade K-12 Education Modules—compendia of inquiry-based, hands-on lessons at elementary, middle, and high school levels—that are used as the ‘curriculum’ for community-wide programming.

Journey through the Universe embraces a pedagogy where science is authentically portrayed as a seamless fusion of process and content, and as an innately human endeavor, and where learner as explorer is essential.

Teaming: Programming is delivered by a National Team of engineers and scientists, and master science educators—the Visiting Researchers and Visiting Educators—from the Center and research and education organizations across the nation, including: NASA field centers and universities. The engineers and scientists are passionate about their research on the frontier, and are selected through a national announcement of opportunity to ensure they are gifted at communicating their passion to audiences of all ages.

To implement the program, the community forms a Local Team reflecting the key partner education organizations: school district(s), museums/science centers, universities, and appropriate civic and business organizations. Journey through the Universe provides a wonderful environment for partnerships between these diverse stakeholders to flourish. The Local Team should include a curriculum specialist, and a science educator leadership team—the Master Science Teachers—that can serve as a sustainable program asset to teachers across the community.

The Local Team is fully supported throughout program definition and implementation by the Journey through the Universe Team at the Center.

Three Main Programming Components
All Journey through the Universe programming falls into three categories—

  • Professional Development for educators through an array of workshops, institutes, and distance learning opportunities, at all grade levels, for all teachers of science (in-service, pre-service, and museum/science center educators; and science lead teachers). Workshops for 30-200 attendees are available, with workshop cost independent of attendance if the community takes on production of the package of lessons.
  • Classroom Visits by the National Team of Visiting Researchers traveling to your community to talk to thousands of students—one classrooms at a time—about what research is like on the frontiers of exploration. Typically a Week of Classroom Visits—Journey through the Universe Week—is conducted as part of a multi-week set of experiences in schools across a district, which is also supported by: the Journey through the Universe lessons, and professional development on these lessons well in advance of the Classroom Visits; and grade-level wide and school-wide activities (a school-wide enrichment model).
  • Family and Public Programs specifically designed for family learning, where a ‘performance’ by a Visiting Researcher, each for 100-2,000 attendees, provides parent and child a window on what it’s truly like to do science, and with program content mated to the curriculum. The programs are often enhanced with family science activities, a distance learning connection to a research facility, and night sky observing. Billed as school functions, typically one to four Family and Public Programs are held at, e.g., a museum, science center, or university, while the National Team is in your community for the Classroom Visits.

Other Resources: Beyond the library of Education Modules serving as program content, a suite of other resources are provided to the community to support programming, and extend the experiences of students, teachers, families, and the public.

Exhibitions: As a separate program designed to be consistent with the Learning Community Model, the Center makes available for permanent installation a replica of the Voyage Scale Model Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Assessment: As part of normal program operations, the Center provides baseline assessment of all programming, and will work closely with a school district’s division of evaluation to develop and implement protocols for additional assessment of strategic impact both in the short term and longitudinally, e.g., impact on standardized test scores.

Sustainability: Programming is designed to be sustainable in order to make a lasting difference. A variety of elements comprise a sustainability plan, including: the establishment of a local infrastructure—a Local Team—that downstream can provide self-sustaining programming using local resources and free national resources provided by the Center on an ongoing basis; training of the Local Team on program implementation; and training of, and community support for, a team of STEM lead educators—the Master Science Teachers—serving as an enduring local content and programming asset.

Cost: Program cost is calculated on a strictly cost recovery basis, and fully detailed budgets are submitted to a community as part of a customized proposal package. We can help you identify organizations in your area that might be interested in underwriting the program. Given the wide range of available program options and scope, cost can only be calculated after a program is customized to a community’s strategic needs and projected audiences. Examples of program cost for a range of community programs—e.g., a grade K-12 program for a small district; or a program addressing all 5th graders for a large urban district, together with a customized package of lessons implemented as the 5th grade science curriculum—are provided on the cost page.

Journey through the Universe
Contact Us
For information, please contact Jeff Goldstein at (301) 395-0770 or via e-mail at info@ncesse.org.
New Content
Journey through the Universe Brochure (PDF, 804 KB)
Become a Journey Community (PDF, 392 KB)
Journey through the Universe Week (PDF, 484 KB)
Journey Program Menu (PDF, 308 KB)
Journey Community Resources (PDF, 344 KB)
Milestones (PDF, 360 KB)
Testimonials (PDF, 244 KB)
©2008, National Center for Earth and Space Science Education