|Title:||The NASA Night Sky Network and Its Benefit to Museums|
|Authors:||Jessica Santascoy, Victor Yocco, Berendsen Marni, Kenneth Frank, Vivian White|
|Publication:||MW2011: Museums and the Web 2011|
In this presentation, we introduce factors that help shape a model predicting individuals' engagement in outreach activities and the extent to which web-based tools support those outreach activities. The NASA Night Sky Network (NSN) may serve as an example for the museum community to create an online hub for exhibits and programs, as well as help museum workers understand individuals' motivation for outreach, thereby increasing the likelihood of successful recruitment and retention of volunteers.
The NASA Night Sky Network is a nationwide community supporting over 350 amateur astronomy clubs who conduct educational outreach across the U.S.A. at museums, science centers, parks, and on urban sidewalks. An example of how NSN clubs help museums is when the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers, a NSN club, set up telescopes outside of the museum for hundreds of visitors to view the moon and planets, enhancing the De Young Museum's public program called Van Gogh's Starry Night Over the Bay.
One NSN objective is to serve the clubs' outreach needs by providing web-based tools to reduce clubs' efforts in publicizing outreach activities. This presentation introduces findings from research conducted by the Institute for Learning Innovation (ILI) in partnership with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) on clubs' use of NSN website and services, and potential factors that motivate club members to actively engage in outreach. Telephone interviews with a dozen astronomy club leaders throughout the country in both mid-2010 and late 2010 indicated specific ways in which NSN tools such as a web-based interactive calendar, iPhone application, and widget were being accepted and utilized.
While research is still ongoing, an intended outcome is to introduce factors that help shape a comprehensive model predicting individuals' engagement in outreach activities and the extent to which web-based tools support those outreach activities. Additionally, NSN may serve as an example for the museum community to create online hubs for exhibits and programs.