Section 1: Introduction

The work presented in this paper was sponsored by the NASA High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) program. This program was funded by the December 1991 Federal legislation initiated by then-Senator Al Gore. A component supporting K12 education was included in the HPCC mandate.

NASAs K12 Internet Initiative team was organized in response, working from the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California and Washington DC. A major activity of the group is Sharing NASA With Our Classrooms, which is described in this paper. Other Initiative activities include:

The NASA K12 Internet Initiative is uniquely situated to sponsor online interactive projects. Many people who work for NASA believe they are fortunate to have jobs that are fun and rewarding, and are eager to share these experiences with students. Teachers, in turn, feel that NASA resources, in the form of people, missions, and datasets, are worthwhile adjuncts to existing science curricula, particularly those that are being restructured to meet new national standards.

There are numerous benefits to providing schools with interactive access to this invigorating environment. Students glimpse realworld activities and begin to connect what they learn in school with possible careers. The excitement of ongoing science may help motivate some students to further pursue math and technical studies. Teachers establish links to experts who can help answer difficult questions and provide professional growth opportunities. NASA employees, contractors and researchers report personal enjoyment from the opportunity to share their vocations with interested amateurs through a project interface that insulates them from undue hardships.

As the number of Internetconnected classrooms grows exponentially, the thrill of connecting with classrooms may dull for researchers if the demand on their time is not somehowe moderated. Thus, the Sharing NASA project is also an ongoing research effort to ensure that classrooms retain adequate access to these precious people resources over time. We will develop and share information including helper software, models for project organization, communication processes and other mechanisms.

People interested in participating in ongoing discussion about the issues raised in this paper are invited to join an email group. To subscribe, send email to In the first line of the email, write the words subscribe discusssharing (without the quotes).

Our management deserves a great deal of credit in helping the authors deliver this work. NASA employees who have made significant contributions include: Paul Hunter at Headquarters, who leads NASAs Information and Infrastructure Technology and Applications (IITA) Program; also Jim Hart and Mark Leon from NASA Ames Research Center. Key management for Sterling Software include Mike DeFrenza and Jennifer Sellers.

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