From 2000-2011, MKI had a formal Education and Outreach Group.  The program was started with a small grant from NASA; MKI Principal Research Scientist Kathryn Flanagan served as the director of outreach from 2000-2006.  In 2006, with additional funding from the National Science Foundation, the MKI Education and Outreach Group collaborated with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to develop the Youth Astronomy Apprenticeship (YAA) and Kids Capture Their Universe (KCU). Under the directorship of Dr. Irene Porro from 2006-2011, MKI’s Education and Outreach Group developed out-of-school educational programs to expose urban middle and high school students to astronomy.  The activities sponsored by YAA and KCU not only got young people interested in science, but taught them valuable academic and personal skills to apply in other aspects of their lives.  While funding for MKI’s Education and Outreach Group unfortunately ended in 2011, we hope to secure funding so similar programs can be offered in the future.  The archived information below includes photos from MKI’s Building 37 exhibit as part of the MIT 150 celebration and offers a sampling of some of the educational and outreach programs previously offered by MKI.


Over the past ten years, the MKI Education and Outreach Group has been focusing its efforts to respond to the need for quality out-of-school science programs, in particular to reach out to underserved youth. Our group has been very active in the creation of a portfolio of initiatives that provide a continuity of opportunities for urban youth to be exposed to and to be meaningfully engaged in science. A fruitful collaboration with the Science Education Department at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory – that makes many of its educational resources available to our youth – and important partnerships with organizations such as the Timothy Smith Network and Citizen Schools have been pivotal in the development of our portfolio.

The vision for science education that the MKI Education and Outreach Group strives to contribute to strongly subscribes to the following statement from “Science for All Americans” (AAAS, 1990): “Education has no higher purpose than preparing people to lead personally fulfilling and responsible lives. Science education should help students to develop the understandings and habits of mind they need to become compassionate human beings able to think for themselves and to face life head on. It should equip them also to participate thoughtfully with fellow citizens in building and protecting a society that is open, decent, and vital.”

Today, thanks to grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation, our group is able to contemporary implement three major initiatives (KCU, YAA, CAI) that together illustrate the multi-tiered approach to science learning that we have gradually but purposely developed over the years. Through these three complementary initiatives we ideally scaffold the youth’s learning process from novice, to apprentice, to expert around the use of real astronomical data.

March 2010

Under the Boston Sky II — a star party and telescope observing session held at UMass Boston on March 25, 2010.  The event was hosted by the Physics Department at UMass Boston in partnership with MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research with invited guests from the Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston.

December 2010

The Science Media Group have released a new video showcasing the work of our very own YAA interns. Watch it now on YouTube for an up close and inside look at the some of their ongoing efforts in the YAA.

Astronomy in the City

Join us for an afternoon of fun and engaging science activities on Saturday December 4, 2010 from 2:30pm to 5:30pm. At Astronomy in the City you will be able to explore an interactive science exhibit on telescopes, enjoy planetarium shows and science-theater performances.

Astronomy in the City, so called in reference to the urban areas served by our programs, is a showcase for the informal science education initiatives promoted by the Education and Outreach Group at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

On December 4th youth in the Youth Astronomy Apprenticeship (YAA) program will share insights about their personal exploration of the universe with family members, friends, community members and professional scientists.

Rehearsing planetarium shows in the StarLab portable planetarium…in fast time!