SSI's education efforts are conducted by both the Education and Learning Research team, as well as through education and outreach efforts conducted by SSI researchers. The major components of the Education and Learning Branch are 1) Informal Learning Research and Evaluation, 2) Exhibition and Kit Development, 3) Digital Learning, 4) Professional Development, and 5) Community Engagement.

Education and Learning Research

Providing effective, engaging, and relevant STEM learning opportunities for all Americans, regardless of educational attainment, socio-economical status, race, creed, or ability is essential to creating an educated citizenry who understand the complex issues confronting our nation and the world. STEM professions and the pipelines that produce them lack diversity across these areas, even as the nation is undergoing a significant demographic shift. SSI education programs strategically engage diverse audiences in STEM education experiences. We foster collaboration between scientists and educators to bring the wonder of discovery directly to people wherever they are. We bridge the worlds of public libraries, schools, museums, and the Internet. Our programs span a range of audience needs and delivery methods, including traveling library and museum exhibitions; award-winning educational films, videos, and websites; hands-on resources and activities for informal educators; and educator professional development (both online and in person).

For over a decade, SSI has worked at the forefront of digital media, ranging from interactive experiences for museums and libraries to online games and now smartphone and tablet apps. The potential of digital media only increases as portable, connected devices become more commonplace, allowing us to reach people in a variety of different environments and contexts. This means an increased opportunity to impact both informal AND formal education, and to reach people in all walks of life, raising the general scientific literacy of the public.

Our work is guided by a robust research and evaluation program using internal and external researchers and evaluators, that is contributing to the development best practices for hands-on interactive learning, professional development, and facilitation, enabling us to disseminate the most successful program components nationally and through the support of a multitude of partners including the American Library Association, WebJunction OCLC, Twin Cities Public Television, Education Development Center and thousands of libraries across the country.


SSI has been deeply involved in science education since its formation in 1992, producing pioneering projects ranging from exhibits, to digital learning experiences, to workshops designed to engage scientists in education reform. Dr. Paul Dusenbery was both the founder of SSI, and the first Director of its Education Branch. Dr. James Harold is the current director and can be reached via e-mail.

Moon Bear Shadow activity

2023 Education Stats at a Glance

  • 11 total Education Grants active in 2023
  • Educators and learners reached in all 50 states and all US territories and Freely Associated States (Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau)
  • 5,000,000 solar viewing glasses distributed
  • 310 eclipse kits distributed
  • In-person workshops reached 1,735 informal educators in 46 states and territories
  • 2,990 informal educators viewed training webinars
  • Exhibitions reached 75,188 learners
  • Exhibition programming reached 8,754 learners
  • 13 Conference sessions conducted with 945 attendees
  • 660,000 website views across all education sites

Education Consulting Services

The Space Science Institutes Education and Learning Research Group offers a wide range of advisory, consultant, and Co-I services. Past services provided include exhibit development services, workshop development and facilitation, hands-on activity training, hands-on activity development, research and evaluation services (both formal and informal education), digital interactives and app development, and general advisory service. Current and previous recipients of SSI Education consulting services include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Science Center, Tangled Banks Studios, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, University of Colorado, Michigan State Library, and Twin Cities Public Television. Please contact Anne Holland to learn more about these opportunities for collaboration!

Interested in joining SSI as a PI?

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Anne Holland

Director of NCIL

James Harold

Director of IST and Deputy Director of NCIL

Amy Briones

Graphic Designer/Illustrator

Brooks Mitchell

Education Associate

Claire Ratcliffe Adams

Education Associate

Evaldas Vidugiris

Senior Developer

Stephanie Vierow-Fields

Education Associate


Paul Dusenbery

Former Director, Education & Outreach/National Center for Interactive Learning