Earth, Space & Life Sciences

NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT)

CSS was a member of NASA's Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT) in Gravitational Biology, led by North Carolina State University. This academic-private sector consortium centered its efforts on research and training on "Calcium, Signaling and Gravity: An Integrated Molecular, Cellular, and Physiological Approach to Plant Gravitational Biology." In addition to supporting the research, teaching courses and coordinating educational and public outreach and administrative functions, a CSS Principal Investigator served as the Center's Associate Director. Education and public outreach were integral facets of the NSCORT. CSS helped establish an innovative learning environment for postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate students through active integration of teaching, research and outreach opportunities. Enthusiastic appreciation for gravitational plant biology was communicated to thousands of individuals, including peers in the scientific community, university and K-12 students, teachers and members of the general public through site visits and through the development of educational websites. NSCORT staff interacted with more than 6,000 students, 600 teachers and 200 members of the general public. CSS also designed and conducted a college-level course in Space Biology. Using video conferencing capabilities, the course was made available nationwide. The course was taken by 160 undergraduate students at seven schools, and more than 3,000 individuals viewed taped lectures from a closed-circuit video training series that CSS conducted remotely from the Kennedy Space Center. The course was also offered as an asynchronous, web-based, distance education course. The NSCORT provided outreach to K-12 student and teacher communities through visits to classrooms and "hands-on" classroom activities. In addition, the NSCORT forged a relationship with Encore, a lifelong learning initiative of North Carolina State University, to provide educational outreach to adults over the age of 50.