PoSSUM Science Education Courses

astronaut teacher_possum

Want to be a PoSSUM Instructor? The PoSSUM Science Education Program qualifies PoSSUM graduates to be PoSSUM Academy instructors and qualifies one to be a spacesuit and simulator technician. The PoSSUM Science Education program also provides a focused education on the art of citizen-science and provides opportunities for graduates to work with astronauts and artists to explore new ways to enable science communication through diversity of artistic interpretation.

What we do

Provide Education and Public Outreach supporting PoSSUM Research

Supported by PoSSUM Science Education graduates, PoSSUM Academy uses next-generation astronautics to educate the general public about the science of aeronomy and bioastronautics. Most people know little of our upper atmosphere, noctilucent clouds, or even the science of aeronomy, yet this science deals with the most sensitive part of our planet and one of the best locations to study the effects of a changing climate. PoSSUM Academy and the Space Foundation are on a mission to change this.



Qualify PoSSUM Directors and Education Professionals

EDU 103 and EDU 104 courses serve to qualify the next-generation of PoSSUM Educators and Directors through intensive development programs designed to standardize and enhance teaching methods and mature leadership techniques that can be used to serve as an executive within the PoSSUM program.

Dr. Jason Reimuller instructs PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates (credit: Ross Lockwood)

PoSSUM Science Education Courses

EDU 101: Citizen Science Research Methods

EDU 101 covers best practices for citizen science research with Project PoSSUM and Project OTTER. Included are an introduction to citizen science, human subject research, basic research design, research ethics, data collection, analysis, presentation and publication. The course teaches candidates how to structure research projects: from experimental design, to determining sample types and sizes, to qualitative and quantitative methods.

EDU 102: Tools and Techniques of Science Communication

EDU 102 offers the student a broad background in the art and science of science communication. Techniques to engaging scientific peers, specialized and general education professionals, and the general public will be explored. The course will engage student teams in both existing PoSSUM citizen-science campaigns and in campaigns funded through national space programs. Specialists in videography, photography, and scientific and general writing techniques will support students in class assignments and projects.

EDU 103: PoSSUM Instructor Development Course (IDC)

EDU 103 provides a background in education and qualifies a PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut candidate to serve as a PoSSUM instructor. This class is restricted to PoSSUM Scientist-Astronaut Candidates and further qualifies the candidate to serve as a PoSSUM Spacesuit Technician using Final Frontier Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) Spacesuits and as a PoSSUM Simulator Technician and pilot in support of PoSSUM research and educational activities. (photo credit: Ross Lockwood)

EDU 104: PoSSUM Leadership Development Program

Details to be released shortly

Course Curriculum and Schedule

EDU 101: Citizen Science Research Methods

Description    This course provides PoSSUM scientist astronaut candidates with an overview of current citizen science research and a foundation for conducting their own research. Current citizen science research gaps in bioastronautics, extra-vehicular activity (EVA), spacecraft technology, and aeronomy, and possible ways to address these gaps are discussed. Guest instructors, including PoSSUM alumni, and subject matter experts within the space community, will present their citizen science work as examples.


Goals    The purpose of this course is to give PoSSUM scientist astronaut candidates a foundation on which to participate in or conduct their own research, complimentary to the science activities of PoSSUM, OTTER, and IIAS.


Objectives    Upon completing this course, scientist astronaut candidates will be able to:

  1. Describe existing citizen science work supported by space agencies
  2. Design and propose citizen science research projects
  3. Demonstrate the requirements for human subject research
  4. Communicate the current gaps in knowledge within bioastronautics, EVA, spacecraft technologies, and aeronomy research
  5. Develop and present their own citizen science research project proposal with objectives, procedures, budget, and data collection and analysis strategy

Assignments    Use the PoSSUM assignment instructions to:

  1. Describe how citizen science enabled a specific research project or discovery that would have otherwise been infeasible (due 13 April 2020)
  2. Develop a research project idea of your own and the means by which citizen science methods could be of benefit (due 27 April 2020)
  3. Complete a funding proposal for your research project (due 11 May 2020)
  4. Present your funding proposal to the class and provide feedback for others (due 18 May 2020)


Date & Time            Topic

6 April 2020 08:00-09:00 PDT    Introduction to Citizen Science Research

  • Course overview, definition of citizen science, funding opportunities
  • Example projects

13 April 2020 08:00-09:00 PDT    Introduction to Human Subjects Research

  • CITI Program, Institutional Review Boards, informed consent
  • Data management, study design

20 April 2020 08:00-09:00 PDT    Citizen Science in Bioastronautics & Microgravity Spacesuit Evaluation

  • Spaceflight physiology and study design
  • Microgravity spacesuit evaluation

27 April 2020 08:00-09:00 PDT    Citizen Science in Extravehicular Activity

  • Research in space and remote medicine, space analogs
  • Life Support Systems, EVA operations

4 May 2020 08:00-09:00 PDT    Citizen Science in Spaceflight & Crew Systems Technologies

  • Spacecraft systems engineering
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics

11 May 2020 08:00-09:00 PDT    Citizen Science in Aeronomy and Remote Sensing

  • Suborbital space environments
  • Remote sensing of noctilucent clouds, CubeSats, Virtual Reality

18 May 2020 08:00-10:00 PDT    Proposal Presentations

20 May 2020 08:00-10:00 PDT    Proposal Presentations Continued


Next Class: 6 April – 20 May 2020, student presentations following research projects.

Location: Virtual

Prerequisites: None

Instructor: S. Ritter