Center for education

Science lab


Are we alone in the Universe? Is there life beyond Earth? How can we search for evidence of life in our Solar System and beyond? These questions motivate people to learn about our natural world and are at the core of our Center for Education. The Center promotes STEM education through NASA- and NSF-funded programs aimed at teaching and inspiring children, young adults, and educators with emphasis on space sciences and astrobiology.

Teachers Karina Leppik and Mariela Aguirre receive mission information from SOFIA mission manager Charlie Kaminski as part of the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program. Credit: NASA/Carla Thomas

The efforts of the Center for Education are central to the Institute’s mission of sharing knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public. The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program brings the excitement of hands-on research to middle and high school teachers throughout the United States with training and flights onboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

(SOFIA), a Boeing 747-SP that carries a 2.5 meter diameter telescope to the stratosphere.

In partnership with NASA, the University of Arizona, the Girl Scouts of Northern California, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and AIRES, the SETI Institute leads “Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts,” a five year program of STEM education for girls and adult volunteers. The SETI Institute operates a compelling and highly competitive summer internship program for STEM college students.

The NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) is an intensive 8-week summer internship that pairs students with Institute scientist mentors. We also manage a travel grant program for STEM undergraduate and graduate students to attend professional meetings.

2015 Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates students pose outside the SETI Institute. Credit: SETI Institute/Seth Shostak