TSGC's goal is to inspire grade school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics though enabling educators to integrate the exploration of space into classroom activities
Alignment with State Education Standards
All TSGC developed classroom activities are directly aligned to state and national standards in science, mathematics, and technology. The specific standards that the activity addresses are clearly identified for the educators' reference.
Emphasis on Teacher Preparation & Development
TSGC's primary focus in this program area is the professional development of K-12 educators including 4-H extension agents. Each year TSGC trains over 150 teachers how to implement various space related activities in their classroom. TSGC also incorporates the train the trainer model of professional development. This secondary training expands the number of teachers that TSGC trains each year to over 750.
Promote Understanding of and Interest in STEM Disciplines & NASA Mission
TSGC strives to promote a deeper understating of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines and the NASA mission in all of its activities. Some examples of this emphasis include: TSGC has developed a web site that enables visitors to engage in an interactive educational experience related to various space activities. Since its launch in July of 2001 it receives an average of 3,400 unique visitors per month. Every two weeks TSGC distributes "Voyage to Spread Space Excitement", an educator newsletter, to over 1,600 educators state wide. This newsletter informs educators of upcoming space related workshops, cool web sites, effective classroom activities, and many other tools for their classroom.
LiftOff Summer Institute [1990-pres]
Liftoff Summer Institute is an ongoing workshop organized around an aerospace or space science theme drawn from the many research and engineering programs pursued by NASA. The goal of these workshops is to enrich teaching of math, science, and technology by providing teachers with information, ideas, activities, and materials that can be used both to augment the regular curriculum and to be shared with colleagues. Themes have included International Space Station, Lunar Bases, and Space Biomedicine. This program also incorporates the train the trainer model. Each program alumni returns to their home district and trains additional teachers through district professional development workshops, regional math and science teacher meetings, and state and national teacher conferences.
Space Station Protein Crystal Grown Experiment [1998-pres]
Across Texas, high school students and middle school teachers have had the unique opportunity to prepare protein crystal growth experiments to be flown on the International Space Station. In this program, they prepare, package, and [sometimes] see their experiments launched to the ISS. In partnership with the University of California - Irvine and the Marshall Space Flight Center, TSGC has provided the opportunity for over 2500 Texas middle and high school students to participate in this program. Students and teachers prepared protein crystals for flight at more than 10 workshops across the state.
Prior to the launch of the crystals, each class where teachers and students had packed protein crystals was provided with the grade-level appropriate science background and the rationale behind growing protein crystals in zero-gravity. Furthermore, TSGC sponsored the trips of twenty students and three teachers to watch a Shuttle launch STS-104 and STS-110 that carried a set of protein crystals to the ISS.
Interactive Web Site Development [2001-pres]
This program is designed to capitalize on the rapidly expanding use of the internet for education and entertainment. TSGC had designed over 80 on-line activities that were designed to not only entertain but also educate the participant. These activities focus on developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the NASA mission and STEM fields of discipline. Since its launch in July of 2001 it has had over 74,700 unique visitors. For example, one of the activities titled "Who Wants to be a Martian", based upon the popular TV show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" takes its visitors through a set of 15 questions of increasing difficulty about Mars.
Space Explorers Middle School Activities [1995-pres]
Space Explorers is an interdisciplinary space exploration curriculum designed for middle school students. The curriculum includes lessons in mathematics, language arts, social studies, science, computer, theater, physical education, and art. Students broaden their knowledge and comprehension STEM careers and NASA's mission through interactive, hands-on learning activities. All activities are aligned with state and national educational standards. The curriculum is divided into four content areas: Overall Introduction to Space Exploration, Life Sciences, Remote Sensing, and Orbital Mechanics. Activities are designed to be part of an interdisciplinary program. To date 3,400 teachers and 240,000 students have had direct experience with these materials in the classroom.
The major strengths of the TSGC K-12/General Public Outreach program are three fold.  Total Number Impacted,  Depth of Impact, and  Leveraging.
Between 1998 and 2002 TSGC has directly impacted over 6,000 K-12 teachers and 500,000 K-12 students through teacher workshops, classroom activities, and other programs. Although predominantly from the state of Texas these teachers and students represent every state of the nation and 9 other countries around the world. TSGC programs have been featured in over 300 newspaper articles, TV programs, radio shows, and magazine articles reaching tens of millions of people. These publications include CNN, Discovery Channel, Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time Magazine, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and many others.
Participants in TSGC K-12/GP Outreach programs routinely describe their experiences as "the best conference I have every attended", "an everlasting experience", and "life changing". High school teachers have tailored entire curriculum around their workshop experiences, students have regained their love for math and science because of their experiences, and people have thanked TSGC for opening their eyes to real world science.
Web-based programs are a new phenomenon, and developing effective web programs is difficult. In the past 5 years several weaknesses in TSGC's web-based activities have been identified and the Consortium has changed its web presentations to address these concerns. Three major weaknesses were identified:  Weak Web Presence,  limited material distribution, and  a smaller number of program applicants than we expected.
In 1998, TSGC's web site consisted of over 20,000 html pages loosely tied together in an effort to communicate the Consortium's activities. In the last 5 years, TSGC redesigned its web site and more efficiently utilized its web site to support its programs. Over the last five years, the number of unique visitors to TSGC's web site has increased by more than a factor of 3 to over 27,000 unique visitors per month.
Some examples of web site improvements made as the result of customer feedback are:  LiftOff applications are submitted on-line,  educational materials are distributed directly to teachers over the web, and  interactive educational activities for K-12 have become a prominent feature of TSGC's web site. These improvements are considered in more detail below.
Although program evaluations by participants ranked TSGC programs as among the best they had every attended, the number of applications to these programs was decreasing. The Consortium initiated an intense advertising campaign. This included the establishment of a list serve that gives us direct contact with more than 2,000 key K-12 educators and a smaller number of regional science coordinators. We also increased the mass distribution of program applications. These efforts, along with placing the applications on-line, lead to a tripling of the number of applicants to the Consortium's programs during the past application cycle.
Through discussions with K-12 teachers, it was determined that TSGC-developed materials and training were not reaching many potential users. In an effort to reach more educators, TSGC increased the distribution of materials at teachers' conferences and established easy on-line access to the activities. In the last 6 months over 5,500 teachers have utilized TSGC developed activities with over 380,000 students across the state and nation. These usage figures are based on teacher-reported data obtained through a web survey attached to each learning modules that can be downloaded from the web.
TSGC has also been able to leverage the funding provided by the NSGC&FP for K-12/General Public Outreach programs by 10 fold. The NSGC&FP funding of $428K was leveraged into $4.4M of program activity. Below is a list of some of the projects that resulted from this leveraging.
This program was specifically designed to encourage High School students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Modeled after the NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunity Program, FlyHigh provides a unique educational experience for Texas high school students by giving them an opportunity to fly and operate a microgravity experiment aboard the Johnson Space Center's KC-135A reduced-gravity aircraft. Students from High Schools in Texas and New Mexico participated in this program. This program was phased out due to a restructuring of priorities at NASA/JSC.
GRACE/ICESat Education and Public Outreach [1999-pres]
In partnership with the University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research TSGC had developed comprehensive Education and Public Outreach programs in support of the Gravity Recover and Climate Experiment [GRACE] and Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite missions. Master teachers from across the nation were selected through an application and review process to be actively involved in these missions. They have created, evaluated, and promoted mission related materials. Most importantly, they have introduced other teachers to these materials through teacher training workshops. To date over 2,000 teachers and 140,000 students have had direct experience with these materials.
Astronomy and the Solar System [2001-02]
The Astronomy and the Solar System program was developed to address the growing need of quality STEM-focused professional development for middle school teachers. This program focused on 6th grade teachers who lack training in teaching astronomy in the classroom. Astronomy was recently added as a required subject content for the 6th grade and many of these teachers are not prepared to teach this subject. In two years this small [$10K] program trained over 100 teachers across the state of Texas.
Some quotes from participants in TSGC's K-12/ General Public Outreach Programs are provided below.
When I loaded samples I became the NASA scientist.
This opportunity has opened my eyes to new professions and horizons.
This is the ability to see what a difference I can make with my own hands.
One of the greatest accomplishments of my life!
It's really thrilling that even students can be part of one of the first experiments on the International Space Station.
You think of EVERYTHING. I wish I would be able to work with you again some day. - Former President of National Science Teachers Association
Liftoff was easily the best conference I have ever attended!
LiftOff Summer Institute was an everlasting experience. I can't wait until school starts! I am so excited about sharing everything that I experienced, not only with my students, but with fellow teachers and colleagues.