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J. Rosendhal (NASA HQ)
Over the past five years, NASAís Office of Space Science (OSS) has planned and is now implementing a comprehensive approach to making education at all levels (with a particular focus on K-14 education) and the enhanced public understanding of science integral parts of Space Science missions and research programs. Major progress has been made in realizing OSSís education and public outreach goals and objectives since they were first presented to the astronomical community at the Toronto AAS meeting in January 1997. All flight missions are now required to have a substantive, funded education and public outreach program as an integral element of the mission. Participants in research programs are strongly encouraged to include an education and public outreach component as part of their research proposals. As a consequence of both these actions, literally hundreds of education and outreach activities of many different types are now underway in communities across the country. A national infrastructure for Space Science education and outreach has been established to: facilitate the involvement of space scientists in education and outreach; help identify appropriate high leverage opportunities; coordinate and synthesize the education and public outreach programs undertaken by flight missions and individual researchers; and arrange for the widest possible dissemination of Space Science-sponsored education and outreach programs and products. The purpose of this talk is to provide a broad overview of current activities and to provide a context for subsequent speakers in this session who will describe the OSS Education Forums and Broker/Facilitators and present examples of the large-scale education programs being undertaken by missions and the smaller-scale activities being undertaken by individual researchers.