A classroom setting where a teenage girl and a teacher are engaged in a friendly conversation. The girl, wearing a plaid shirt, smiles warmly at the teacher, who is wearing a pink shirt and gesturing while speaking. Other students are visible in the background, focused on their tasks. The scene conveys a positive and interactive learning environment.

Valerie Ann Johnson, PhD

2023 Heliophysics Big Year Awardee

Project Description

Engaging HBCU Campuses in Participatory Science

The image is a promotional flyer for a funded project titled "Engaging HBCU Campuses in Citizen/Participatory Science" under the NASA SCoPE initiative. It highlights the collaboration between NASA's Science Activation Program, the Eclipse Soundscapes Project, and the NASA Earth Science Education Collaborative (NESEC). The flyer prominently features Valerie Ann Johnson, PhD, the Dean of the School of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities and Professor of Sociology at Shaw University, who is leading this project. It includes logos for NASA SCoPE, Eclipse Soundscapes, NESEC, and the Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration. The flyer shows an image of a smiling young woman engaged in conversation with another person and has a "FUNDED" stamp overlaid. There is also a photo of Valerie Ann Johnson.

The purpose of this project, Engaging HBCU Campuses in Citizen/Participatory Science: A Project with Eclipse Soundscapes (ES) and GLOBE Observer (GO) Eclipse is to facilitate successful participation in eclipse activities by faculty, staff, and students at various HBCUs in and near the path of totality. We believe that the project director (Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson), serving as a direct liaison between ES and GO Eclipse and HBCUs, will be able to foster the trust needed. Dr. Johnson will recruit faculty ambassadors at focal HBCUs, offering curricular resources and training to prepare them to engage their classes and/or campus community in activities related to the upcoming solar eclipse, April 2024. ES will provide HBCU participants AudioMoths free of charge to assist in collecting and analyzing observations and sound data. Additional ES curricular materials will be made available for HBCU instructors who would like their students to be Data Collectors. These curricular materials will also be shared via the ES website and via ES outreach efforts further amplifying these resources. GO Eclipse materials will be available via their website and through special trainings. The project director will be primarily responsible for documenting the project activities.

Target Audience Age


NASA Division

Helio logo


Grant Status


Learning Context

Digital Learning disabled

Digital Learning

Home and family enabled

Neighborhood /

Informal out of school disabled

Informal /
Out of School

Home and Families disabled

Home / Family

citizen science enabled

Citizen Science

formal education enabled

Formal Education


Valerie Bio

I am most excited about being able to connect two great SciAct Teams with HBCU students and faculty around the amazing total eclipse event. It is wonderful to be able to increase science activities across multiple disciplinary areas.

Valerie Ann Johnson, PhD Engaging HBCUs PI

Valerie Ann Johnson

Engaging HBCUs PI
Dean - Arts, Sciences, and Humanities
Shaw University

Dr. Valerie Ann Johnson conducts interdisciplinary research in gender, bioethics, disability, the health of women and girls, environmental humanities (particularly African American foodways and African American garden clubs) and environmental justice. She instituted a participatory science internship program at Shaw University to promote informal STEM education across her School. Dr. Johnson served on a NASA Science Activation Review Panel (2020-2021). She is on the steering committee for RCN-UNIDE (Undergraduate Network for Increasing Diversity of Ecologists). Volunteer service reflects these interests and includes membership on the following boards: Citizen Science Association, North Carolina African American Heritage Commission (Chair), North Carolina Historical Commission, National Register Advisory Committee, North Carolina Maritime History Council, Preservation NC (Chair), North Carolina Environmental Justice Network Summit, NC Opera, and Humanities Action Lab (HAL) Advisory Committee.

SciAct Team

Eclipse Soundscapes Description

The Eclipse Soundscapes Project is a NASA Citizen Science project funded by NASA Science Activation that is studying how eclipses affect life on Earth during the October 14, 2023 annular solar eclipse and the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse. Eclipse Soundscapes will revisit an eclipse study from almost 100 years ago that showed that animals and insects are affected by solar eclipses! Like this study from 100 years ago, ES will ask for the public’s help. ES will also use modern technology to continue to study how solar eclipses affect life on Earth!  

NESEC Description

NESEC’s goal is to enable broad participation in authentic NASA Earth STEM experiences for lifelong learners. We do this by creating engaging, meaningful, and authentic STEM experiences and resources that are:

  • Based on NASA Earth science
  • Tailored to specific audiences’ needs
  • Supportive of diverse learners throughout their lifetimes
  • Delivered broadly through strategic partnerships
Mary-Kay Severino headshot.

This [partnership] provides the Eclipse Soundscapes Project the opportunity to increase its connection with a traditionally underserved community that we may not have connected with otherwise increasing the inclusivity and reach of the Eclipse Soundscapes Project.

MaryKay Severino Eclipse Soundscapes Co-PI