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Learning Design

Earth and Space Science

Our experienced educators have teamed up with space scientists at UC Berkeley, NASA, and beyond to create a variety of exciting and effective space sciences curricula incorporating recent discoveries in the field. Artist's rendition of Kepler spacecraft.The Hall has been active in Earth, astronomy, and space science education since the Hall was built in 1968 and continues to be in the forefront of making these topics part of recent education reform efforts. Along the way, a number of excellent planetarium and classroom curriculum materials have been developed. 
Hands-On Universe™ (HOU) is an educational program with world-wide partners. Students investigate the universe with tools and concepts from science and math, as well as technology: for example, Internet-controlled automated telescopes and downloaded images that are analyzed with user-friendly image-processing software. Curriculum units in HOU include A Changing Cosmos (for high school) and Solar System Science (for middle school).

Planetarium Activities for Student Success (PASS)


The Hall is a world leader in the development of audience participation planetarium activities. PASS includes a series of our best planetarium activities, 14 whole programs, and a guide for leading professional development workshops on theory and practice of planetarium audience-participation: the Planetarium Educator's Workshop Guide. PASS is designed for experienced planetarium instructors as well as K-12 teachers using a planetarium for the first time. Each PASS program includes a show script, instructions for setup, electronic assets for all multimedia elements required for presentation in a planetarium, as well as related classroom activities for pre- or post-planetarium school visits.GEMS Space Science Sequence curriculum for grades 3-5 & 6-8

Collaborations with NASA

We enjoy close ties with many NASA centers and missions, including satellite projects at UC Berkeley's own Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL). Several of our Earth and space science products resulted from Hall staff partnering with NASA, including:

  • NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum funded GEMS teacher guides, The Real Reasons for Seasons and Living with A Star. We collaborated with NASA's Swift mission to create the GEMS teacher guide Invisible Universe.
  • NASA's Earth Science Enterprise contributed to making the Global Systems Science high school curriculum part of the Digital Library for Earth Systems Education (DLESE).
  • Hall staff did consulting with NASA Astrobiology projects at Ames Research Center in Mountain View CA.
  • Hall staff was involved in SEGway, an online activity project funded by NASA's Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer mission in the early days of Internet.
  • The Hall is Co-Lead institution (with SETI Institute) for NASA's Kepler Mission which is searching for Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone of stars. This rather extensive education and outreach effort has resulted in a variety of curriculum materials including the two GEMS Space Science Sequences (for grades 3–5 and grades 6–8), overhaul of the FOSS Planetary Science course, a new planetarium show, Strange Planets, an online interactive Exoplanet Transit Hunt, a planet-star-transit model made of LEGO parts, and a full-blown museum exhibit on discovering planets by the transit method that Kepler uses.
  • The Hall's Hands-On Universe (HOU) project collaborated with the NASA WISE mission (Wide Angle Infrared Survey Explorer) to create an online teacher workshop about asteroids (https://sites.google.com/a/berkeley.edu/asteroid-wise-workshop/) NASA's WISE mission spacecraft
  • The Global Systems Science (GSS) project is funded by NASA's Global Climate Change Education program to set up professional learning communities of high school teachers aimed at figuring out the best ways to incorporate climate change topics in their existing high school courses.
  • Our Mysteries of Missing Matter planetarium program was a collaboration of Hall staff with the UC Berkeley Center for Particle Astrophysics.
  • The PASS planetarium show, Our Very Own Star, was funded by the NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory mission.