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Earth & Space Project-Based Professional Learning Community 2021-2022

Explore Science Earth and Space logo showing icons for a planet, a spacecraft, and the Earth

About the Program

NISE Network’s Earth & Space Project-Based Learning Community 2021-2022 supports museums and science centers across the U.S. in their efforts to make Earth & Space science relevant and inclusive for their local communities. This learning community provides a chance for us all to learn with and from each other and to support partner efforts in making Earth and space science relevant and inclusive for all of our local communities.

In collaboration with NASA, the NISE Network is making this new professional development opportunity available to 100 eligible NISE Network partner organizations within the United States. Participating museums will receive $2,000 in funding to participate in the program’s professional development activities and develop a project that aligns with their organization’s mission and seeks to increase relevancy and inclusion for Earth & Space science in their local community. 

This learning community will kick off online in October 2021 and conclude with an in-person meeting (if health and safety allows) in April 2022. A more detailed timeline of major activities is provided below.

Applications to participate in this program are now closed, applications were due August 1, 2021. For additional details about the application process please read the application overview.

All program resources and recordings from the Earth & Space Project-Based Learning Community 2021-2022 can be found on the Making Earth & Space Science More Relevant and Inclusive page.

Participating Institutions

100 participants were selected through a competitive application process; applications were due August 1, 2021. 

Program Activities and Requirements 

Required activities

From October 2021 through April 2022, the learning community will consist of both online and in-person activities. Participants are expected to take part in the following activities between October 2021 and April 2022 (a more detailed description of these activities is provided below in the timeline section):

  • Attend an online Tech Check session (October);
  • Attend an online Plenary Kickoff Meeting (October); 
  • Attend a series of five, 90-minute online planning sessions (November 2021 - March 2022);
  • Attend an virtual culminating meeting (April 19-22, 2022)

In addition to the benefits of the professional learning community, participants will:

  • Receive $2,000 in participant support, payable to the institution for use at the institutions’ discretion for staff time, materials, or other expenses.
  • Participants may also be invited to participate in future dissemination at both virtual and in-person conferences/workshops to share lessons learned from carrying out their project.

Earth & Space Projects

Projects must include plans to make Earth & Space science more relevant and inclusive for your local community. Projects can include new or expanded public programs, educational programs, public events, installations or exhibits, professional development for museum staff and volunteers, or collaborations with community-based or youth-serving organizations related to Earth & Space science initiatives. Projects can vary according to the institution’s mission, priorities, capacity, and degree of previous experience with Earth and space science programming.  

Projects do not need to be completed prior to the in-person meeting in April 2022. As long as you are able to make meaningful progress while participating in the learning community, that will satisfy the requirement. Please see the application overview document for examples of eligible projects.


Earth & Space Science Focus 

Projects must focus on NASA Earth & Space science: they do not need to cover all of these topics but could cover one or more of these listed below. For more information on any of these topics please visit NASA’s science webpage and click on “Science Topics”. The questions below represent a few possibilities on how these NASA topics connect to our society:


The learning community will be held from October 2021 through April 2022, with a total of 100 participating organizations. A timeline of major activities is provided below. All activities are required with the exception of the evaluation, which is optional.  



Project Kickoff

  • October 12th (3PM Eastern) or October 14th at (4PM Eastern) - Online Systems Tech Checks: Full participation in the learning community requires participants to have access to, and use of, Zoom and Google Classroom online collaboration tools. We will be hosting 2 online tech sessions prior to the project kickoff to ensure participants have access to all the systems (Google Classroom and Zoom) needed to fully participate in the program. These sessions will be recorded.
  • October 26th (2PM - 4PM Eastern) - Plenary Kickoff Meeting (online): This 2-hour online program kickoff will feature introductions to the professional learning community, and a brief overview of professional learning resources. These resources will include Earth & Space science topics and ways to make them more relevant for learners, Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion (DEAI) best practices and tools, collaborations and community partnerships, and working with subject matter experts.  


NOVEMBER 2021 - MARCH 2022

Online Planning Sessions

Participants in the Earth & Space professional learning community are required to attend a series of five 90-minute online planning sessions on Google Classroom between November 2021 and March 2022. These online planning sessions are designed to share best practices in a variety of topics. During these sessions, small breakout groups will work together to develop and refine their project plans and discuss homework assignments. We anticipate online planning session attendance and homework will be less than 4 hours of work per month.

Each month, four identical 90-minute online planning sessions will be offered on different days of the week to accommodate schedules and to divide participants into smaller groups. Participants will only be required to attend one session per month. Each month will focus on a different topic designed to assist participants as they plan and carry out their projects.

November Online Planning Sessions - Project Planning and Implementation

  1. Thursday, November 4, 2021 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  2. Tuesday, November 9, 2021 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  3. Monday, November 15, 2021 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  4. Monday, November 29, 2021 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern

December Online Planning Sessions - Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion Practices and Tools

  1. Monday, December 6, 2021 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  2. Thursday, December 9, 2021 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  3. Tuesday, December 14, 2021 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  4. Thursday, December 16, 2021 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern

January Online Planning Sessions - Making Earth & Space Content Relevant

  1. Monday, January 10, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  2. Tuesday, January 18, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  3. Tuesday, January 25, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  4. Thursday, January 27, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern

February Online Planning Sessions - Collaborations with Community Organizations and Experts

  1. Thursday, February 3, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  2. Tuesday, February 8, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  3. Monday, February 14, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  4. Thursday, February 24, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern

March Online Planning Sessions - Regional Breakouts and Project Wrap-ups

  1. Monday, March 7, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  2. Thursday, March 10, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  3. Tuesday, March 15, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern
  4. Monday, March 21, 2022 2PM - 3:30PM Eastern


APRIL 2022

In-Person Culminating Meeting 

If health and safety allows, the in-person culminating meeting will be held in Tempe, Arizona from April 19-21, 2022. We will be making a final decision on whether or not to hold this meeting in-person by December, taking into account all health and safety considerations. If an in-person meeting is not possible, the meeting will be held online. Details about this meeting will be available closer to the event.  


Participants will be required to complete a project report describing their project and their experience in the Earth & Space project-based professional learning community. A link to this report will be emailed to all participants after the In-person Meeting in April 2022.


Project evaluators are planning a pre-survey (in October 2021) and a post-survey (in May 2022) to gather feedback from the learning community and assist the project team in understanding the program impacts. Project evaluators also plan to conduct interviews with a subset of participants during the summer of 2022

How to Apply

  • Deadline: Applications are now closed, applications were due August 1, 2021 
  • Overview: The application overview includes application instructions, eligibility requirements, a detailed timeline and project expectations. Please read the overview and preview the application before applying:


This funded opportunity is open to museum professionals who are currently employed by an eligible organization. Eligible organizations are existing NISE Network partners who have previously received at least one Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit (2017-2020). If you are not sure if your organization has received an Explore Science: Earth & Space toolkit, please see the list of toolkit recipients on the NISE Network Partner Organizations page or contact your regional hub leader. Proposed projects must focus on NASA Earth & Space science and include plans to make Earth & Space science more relevant and inclusive for your community.

Please note that applications to participate in this program are now closed, applications were due August 1, 2021


This material is based upon work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award numbers NNX16AC67A and 80NSSC18M0061. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Attached Files
Attachment Size
nise_network_earth_space_project-based_professional_learning_community_application_overview.pdf 271.91 KB
nise_network_earth_space_project-based_professional_learning_community_2021_application_preview_alchemer.docx 98.78 KB


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