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Bringing the Universe to America's Classrooms

Bringing the Universe to America's Classrooms on PBS LearningMedia
A resource from Bringing the Universe to America's Classrooms on PBS LearningMedia

Target Audience: Grades K-12
Subjects/Skills: Weather & Climate, Space science, Earth’s Systems, History of Earth, Waves & Information Transfer

In collaboration with NASA and affiliated organizations, GBH produced the Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms collection for PBS LearningMedia. The collection contains over 300 free resources to help students meet learning goals related to earth, space and physical science. Familiar GBH brands including PEEP and the Big Wide World, Plum Island, Ruff Ruffman and NOVA provide engaging ways for students to learn about key science concepts. The collection also includes resources that draw on public data from NASA, NOAA and other federal agencies. The resources are supplementary in nature and are designed to be flexible and adaptable to fit into any science curriculum. Over 250 teacher advisors from across the country provided feedback and tested the resources to help optimize them.

The Next Generation Science Standards-aligned resources provide an opportunity for all students to engage with key earth, space and physical science phenomena that are often inaccessible to the classroom. In addition, digital media provide students with the opportunity to view phenomena from multiple perspectives and interact with models to help conceptualize them.

The Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms resources are designed to support students to engage in science practices—ask questions to investigate, collect data to use as evidence, use models to explain and make predictions about phenomena related to the disciplinary core ideas.

All resources include background about content, the media and connections to students’ lives, tips to help implement the resources and ideas for discussion questions; many include handouts for students and activities. The resources in the collection include many accessibility features: all images have descriptions; all videos are closed captioned and many also have descriptive video; and all handouts and interactive lessons are screen-reader compatible. The lesson plans include supports for multilingual students, including visual vocabulary, sentence starters and sentence frames. Over 150 student-facing resources (media and handouts) are also available in Spanish.


Since publication, 3.4 million users from all 50 states have viewed content from the Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms collection 11.8 million times. An external evaluation conducted by WestEd found students who used BUAC materials scored significantly higher on an assessment of the science content taught than a “business as usual” control group. Oregon State University, serving as external evaluators since 2016, concluded students generally learned the target science concepts as a result of engaging with the materials and generally progressed in learning the target science concepts as they worked through the IL. Across studies, teachers expressed enthusiasm for the materials and the strength of the resources in bringing abstract concepts into the classroom.

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