Education and Outreach: May 2011

5/31 NAI AbET Seminar: Brad McLain, 'StoryTeaching: An Exploration of the Importance of Story & Narrative in Science Learning'

Join us for the first Astrobiology Education and Training Seminar!

Date/Time: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:00AM Pacific

Presenter: Brad McLain, University of Colorado, Denver


Humans are natural storytellers. We describe our experiences in terms of story. We recount our history in terms of story. We learn new things and construct new understanding through the reframing of old stories and the forging of new ones. We even describe who we are--to ourselves and others--in terms of story. When applied to science learning and science communication, the concept of "story" represents a powerful framework for making STEM relevant, meaningful, and exciting. This talk will explore StoryTeaching as the intersection of two fields of study: (1) Science Identity Construction through Experiential Learning, and (2) the Narrative Study of Lives. We will discuss the formation, maintenance, and maturing of positive science identities in the face of an often science-hostile youth culture, and the significance of personal ownership and integration of STEM into an individual's sense of self though the processes of interpretation and meaning making inherent in story. StoryTeaching is currently currently a research topic and methodology used at the University of Colorado, Denver.


Brad McLain is an educational researcher and co-director of XSci at the University of Colorado, Denver. XSci is the Experiential Science Education Research Collaborative focused on research into STEM learning theory and the field of experiential learning. McLain's research focus is on science identity construction and the role of narrative (storytelling) in content understanding and personal meaning-making. He is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker and multimedia designer, having been the lead for several NSF and NASA projects over the past 10 years. Prior to joining the faculty at UCD, McLain was an educational researcher at the Space Science Institute, a multimedia instructional designer in the online learning industry, a NASA educational lead, and a social science researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). McLain's NASA experience began in 2001 as an education lead for space shuttle mission STS 107, Columbia's final flight which ended in tragedy. Following his stint on the human space flight side of NASA, he became in involved is several educational efforts in space science and astrobiology. He is also a long-time partner of the NASA Astrobiology Institute and has served as an NAI presenter, reviewer, and project development partner in both NASA and NSF funded astrobiology education projects. McLain lives in Boulder Colorado with his family of 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 wife.

Participation Instructions:


Please RSVP to Marco Boldt ( if you will be joining by Polycom.

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The slides and audio/video for this meeting will be presented using Adobe Connect. To join the meeting, connect to:

From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) is a collection of high resolution images that showcase the beauty and excitement of planetary exploration--our journey to understand the origin and evolution of the Solar System, and our search for life elsewhere.

FETTSS is freely available to organizations worldwide. You can download the high-resolution images for free, and print and display however many you choose, wherever you choose, and in any format you choose! Contact us to get started!

Tips for success and links to the Twitter feed and Facebook page are on the website:

The images are at once artistic and informative, weaving together themes in astrobiology, planetary science, and astronomy. Including contributions from backyard astronomers, large telescopes in space, and even point-and-shoot cameras of field researchers, the collection represents the current state of exploration as seen through the eyes of the scientific community. Thanks to all who contributed to the collection!

The National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) is soliciting applications for its Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. The two-year fellowships are available in any U.S. laboratory carrying out space-related biomedical or biotechnological research.

Applicants are required to submit proposals with the support of a mentor and institution, and all proposals will be evaluated by a peer review panel.

Selected applicants receive a stipend, allowance for health insurance, and travel funds for related scientific meetings. Also, an optional, competitive third-year of fellowship support is available.

Detailed program and application submission information is available at

Proposals must be submitted electronically via the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) at: .

Notices of intent are due May 18, 2011, and the application deadline is June 20, 2011. Questions may be directed to David A. Watson, Ph.D., NSBRI Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, by email,, or by phone, 713-798-7412.

NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight and developing the medical technologies needed for long missions. The Institutes science, technology and education projects take place at more than 60 institutions across the United States.

The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is accepting proposals to the 2011 NAI Director's Discretionary Fund (DDF).

Priority in selection for the NAI 2011 DDF will be given to proposals that are characterized by one or more of the following:

* Integrates the research of and realizes synergies among the current NAI teams
* Expands the scope of NAI research (and the NAI community) in innovative ways, accepting some risk in return for high pay-off potential
* Responds in a timely way to new scientific results or programmatic opportunities
* Develops connections between astrobiology research and other NASA science programs, particularly NASA's Earth Science Program - see,
* Directly supports flight programs, particularly through instrument development
* Uses funding particularly effectively, for example through leveraging or building on past investments
* Supports early career investigators

Schedule: Proposals will be accepted at any time until June 30, 2011.

For more information: