While NASA is well known for its cutting edge space exploration and technology, the organization actually does an amazing job sharing their inspiring advances with educators and students through a huge number of STEM focused mobile apps and websites. Their flagship app, the ‘NASA App’ continues to be one of the most popular government apps and while it has been around for a few years now, it continues to grow in popularity with an ever expanding media catalogue and regular feature updates.
Compatibility: iOS / Android
Access: No signup required
A Quick Look
1. Start small
With over 13,000 images, 11,000 videos and live NASA TV, there is no better place to start a class discussion on space. With so many multimedia resources, try starting small and choose a particular planet, mission or technology to have your students focus their exploration on.
2. Plan a launch procedure
One of the coolest features of the NASA App is the ability to view the latest mission schedules and launch information. Try finding an upcoming mission with your class and then plan research and activities leading up to the launch date. The app will give you loads of resources and media to discuss prior to launch and the anticipation will make learning much more meaningful and exciting. Not to mention the fun of watching the mission live in the app on launch day!
3. It’s just a launch pad
While the NASA App houses thousands of amazing resources, it really is just a starting point. Have your students use the search feature within the app to find and save their most useful resources, then encourage them to pursue their selection further elsewhere. NASA have a heap of online resources for students and educators, and there are many interactive opportunities for discovery online such as Google Sky, Moon and Mars.
4. Take it outside
While there is a lot to see and do within the app, it can also be used as an excellent tool to spark an interest in astronomy and space. Use the ‘Sighting Opportunities’ feature to find upcoming chances (and get notified before they happen) for your students to get outside and explore the sky for the International Space Station and other cosmic events.
5. Visit a NASA center or planetarium
If you find that your students are really taken by exploring our galaxy and beyond, don’t let the fascination end with the app. Organize a field trip or encourage parents to take their children out to discover more. You can use the NASA App to find local NASA visitor centers, try Go Astronomy to find a planetarium in your area (USA only) or simply head to Google Maps to find your closest location.
Links and Next Steps
- NASA Education for Educators -- Resources for educators
- NASA Education for Students -- Resources for students
- NASA Apps -- More space and STEM apps from NASA
- Spacecraft 3D -- Augmented reality spacecraft app from NASA
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- California Institute of Technology classroom activities
- NASA’s Digital Learning Network -- Free online events for educators
- Marshall Space Flight Center -- NASA STEM resources
- NASA YouTube Channel -- High quality video content from NASA
- Google Sky -- Out of this world Google Earth experience
- NASA Activities for the Classroom -- Printable PDF activities
Feature image adapted from image courtesy of Flickr, NASA Goddard Photo and Video.