The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) is collaborating with the Geography Education National Implementation Project (GENIP) and its constituent organizations, on a project called Mission Geography. The goal is to produce three publications linking the skills and content of Geography for Life: National Geography Standards with NASA’s missions and results.

The three publications, Mission Geography K-4, Mission Geography 5-8, and Mission Geography 9-12, will contain curriculum support materials focused on the development of key grade-level-appropriate geography skills including remote sensing and map/image interpretation. This three-year project is using existing NASA data and images where possible to engage students in active, "hands-on" inquiry, modeling the scientific method and developing students’ understandings of environment-society relations and earth science. These materials will be in the hands of interested educators by the start of school 2001.

The project is using web-based technology to publicize Mission Geography materials, provide supplemental resources to teachers, to establish an information sharing area for teachers, teacher educators, and students to share ideas about Mission Geography, and to deliver alternative means to train educators in how to use the materials. Traditional in-service training will also be provided by two "training of trainers" workshops offered in the summer of 2001.

The final product will be a CD-ROM containing pdf files of the lessons, with live links to the Mission Geography web site, the portal to additional NASA web-based resources. Teachers will be able to use the CD-ROM as a stand-alone product or capitalize on the Internet connections.

Mission Geography is directed by Sarah Witham Bednarz, assistant professor of geography, Texas A&M University, and GENIP project coordinator. She is assisted by Osa Brand, educational affairs director of the Association of American Geographers and Susan E. Whisenant, graduate research assistant, Texas A&M.

The development and writing team consists of nationally recognized educators, three master teachers, three geography educators, three geographer/earth system scientists, and three aerospace education specialists.

  • David Hill, Department of Geography, University of Colorado
  • Robert W. Morrill, Department of Geography, Virginia Tech
  • Pat Robeson, Maryland Geographic Alliance
  • Gary E. Miller, Frank W. Cox High School, Virginia Beach, Virginia (now with MCI Marco Polo Project)
  • Judith K. Bock, Lake Villa School District No. 41, Lake Villa, Illinois
  • Billie Kapp, co-coordinator, Connecticut Geographic Alliance and teacher emeritus, Bolton, Connecticut
  • David R. Butler, Department of Geography, Southwest Texas State University
  • Ronald I. Dorn, Department of Geography, Arizona State University
  • Jonathan Phillips, Department of Geography, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas (now at the University of Kentucky)
  • Patterson Biggs, Aerospace Education Specialist, Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia
  • James McMurtray, Aerospace Education Specialist, Stennis Space Center, Stennis Space Center, Mississippi (now at the National Association for Alliances of Mathematics and Science, Washington D.C.)
  • Steven Culivan, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama

The project addresses the critical national need to improve the quality of both science and geography education and literacy. This need is especially acute in the areas of physical geography and environment-society relations because an informed citizenry is vital for confronting issues related to global environmental change and economic, political, and social change related to resource scarcity.

GENIP is a consortium of geographical associations committed to improving geographic education. It was organized in 1985 as a steering committee by the four national geography organizations, the Association of American Geographers, the American Geographical Society, the National Council for Geographic Education, and the National Geographic Society. GENIP is a clearinghouse and communication mechanism to coordinate geography education initiatives of its representative organizations. For example, GENIP coordinates efforts to implement the National Geography Standards. GENIP’s goals are similar to those of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise: to educate students and their teachers to study and better understand Earth.

For further information please contact Sarah Bednarz at 979.845.1579.