NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassador Program

AAA Cycle 5 & Cycle 6 questions can be sent to: 

The SETI Institute’s NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassador Program was one of the  27 organizations from across the United States selected by NASA for cooperative agreement awards  to implement a new strategic approach to more effectively engage learners of all ages on NASA science education programs and activities.

Selections were made by the agency's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington, DC, through the Science Education Cooperative Agreement Notice.   Selectee activities will support Earth science, astrophysics, planetary science and heliophysics.  

NASA's Science Mission Directorate has awarded AAA program management to the SETI Institute during calendar years 2016-18.  The Cycle 4 cohort has been selected via peer-review for flights in 2016. 

NASA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) is a three-part professional development (PD) experience for high school physics and astronomy teachers. The program is composed of: (1) blended-learning professional development comprised of webinars, asynchronous content learning, and a series of hands-on workshops, (2) a STEM immersion experience at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s B703 science research aircraft facility in Palmdale, California, and (3) ongoing participation in the AAA community of practice (CoP) connecting participants with astrophysics and planetary science Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

The SETI Institute (SI) will partner with school districts in the San Francisco Bay Area and greater Los Angeles area, during the incubation of the revised program CYs 2016 - 2018. AAAs will be selected by the school districts based on the criteria developed during Spring 2016 focus group meetings led by external evaluator, WestEd. Teachers with 3+ years teaching experience and assigned to teach at least 2 sections in any combination of the high school courses Non-AP Physics, Physics of the Universe (CA integrated model), Astronomy, or Earth & Space Sciences are eligible. Partner Districts will select at least 48 eligible applicants, with SI oversight. WestEd will randomly assign selected AAAs to group A or group B. Group A will complete PD in January – June of 2017 and then fly on board SOFIA Science Flight in Fall 2017  (Cycle 5).  Group B will act as a control in 2017-2018 school year.  Group B will then complete PD in January – June of 2018 and then fly on board SOFIA for Science Flights in Fall 2018  (Cycle 6).  In the current plan, opportunities for districts to seek partnerships will be offered in 2018 or 2019.

The program will demonstrate student gains in standards-based student learning, and measure changes in student attitudes towards STEM; and observe and record Ambassadors regarding implementation.  The California Draft Science Framework is aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). A nominal two-week curriculum component will be developed for classroom delivery by SI, aligned with selected Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science and Engineering Practices.

Thank you for your interest in the Airborne Astronomy Ambassador (AAA) program.

Further announcements of AAA program status will be made via the SETI Institute website: (,

the SOFIA Outreach website (,  

and the SOFIA Science Center website.

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AAA Cycle 5 & Cycle 6 questions can be sent to: