Report from Headquarters

People Get Out for Space Education, Inspiration

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

 To learn about space, people go out; to be inspired, they go to the movies.

Participants in a Space Foundation survey gave a clear picture of how popular culture -- including books, movies and television -- play a large role in how we learn and get inspired to learn about the wonders and mysteries of space.

The survey showed that when people really want an education, they like to go to museums or participate in targeted space education programs. Destinations are considered the most effective at space education, followed by organized programs, publications and television:

When asked what inspires them to learn about space, respondents overwhelming cited popular entertainment media, followed by real-life events:

  • 43 percent mentioned films, including Apollo 13 (13 percent), Star Wars, The Right Stuff and many more
  • 30 percent cited television programs, with a mix of science fiction and just plain science; the most-mentioned were Star Trek, NOVA and Discovery Channel programming
  • 13 percent said they were inspired by real events, including NASA Space Shuttle missions, the entire history of space travel and simply looking at the night sky
  • The remaining responses ran the gamut from LEGO® robots to books to the Space Foundation's National Space Symposium

How the Space Foundation Educates and Inspires
The foremost advocate for all sectors of the space industry and an expert in all aspects of space, the Space Foundation is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs that bring space into the classroom and major industry events, including the National Space Symposium, all in support of its mission "to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity." The Space Foundation publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity and provides three indices that track daily performance of the space industry. Through its Space Certification and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, the Space Foundation recognizes space-based technologies and innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth.

To further educate and inspire, the Space Foundation annually honors outstanding individuals and organizations for achievements in space exploration, advocacy, education, innovation and accomplishment with five prestigious awards, including the General James E. Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award, the Alan Shepard Technology in Education Award, the Space Achievement Award, the John L. "Jack" Swigert Award for Space Exploration and the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award. The Morrow award has recognized a number of sources of inspiration cited in the survey, including Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy; Hayden Planetarium Director Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson; former Space Shuttle Commander Col. Eileen M. Collins, USAF (Retired); Apollo 13 star and From the Earth to the Moon co-producer Tom Hanks; Star Trek creators Gene and Majel Barrett Roddenberry; the crew of the Space Shuttle Mission STS-95; the Apollo 13 movie team; and Discovery Communication, Inc.

This article is part of Space Watch: November 2011 (Volume: 10, Issue: 11).