6 Degrees of Influence: Understanding the Interconnectedness of Earth Systems

Nurture Nature Center was awarded a 2 year grant, covering 2017 and 2018, from NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums (CP4SMP), for a project called “6 Degrees of Influence: Understanding the Interconnectedness of Earth Systems.” This project supports NASA’s education mission to advance high quality STEM education, using NASA’s unique capabilities (NASA datasets, experts, and analysis tools) to develop a Science on a Sphere® (SOS) program for middle school students. The educational program focuses on earth science concepts and the cross-cutting theme of interconnectedness, using personal relevance as a hook, to capture students’ interest and motivate them to further pursue STEM experiences and careers. The personal relevance approach makes use of the ‘6 degrees of separation’ theory, which postulates that every person can be linked to every other person on the planet by six or fewer steps of connection, and then applies that idea to understanding the interconnectedness of the different earth systems.

Three different methods for engaging students, interns, and teachers using the personal relevance hook of ‘6 degrees’ are being explored, including: 1) an SOS program with an associated arts-based communication workshop; 2) an undergraduate internship program that includes research related to interconnections of earth science; and 3) educator workshops that provide content training for teachers.

NNC is leading the project with partners Maryland Science Center of Baltimore, MD, Lehigh University of Bethlehem, PA, Morgan State University of Baltimore, MD, MathScience Innovation Center of Richmond, VA and the evaluation firm, People Places & Design Research.

For more information on this project please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Kathryn Semmens (

The material contained in this project is based upon work supported by NASA under award Number NNX16AM18G.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Easton Center awarded NASA grantMorning Call (09/2016)
Nurture Nature Center is recipient of NASA grantLehigh Valley Live (09/2016)