In 2007, a small group of people began an intentional, collaborative experiment in open, transparent, and direct communication about your space program. Our goal was to enable your direct participation in exploring and contributing to NASA’s mission.

Many of us have since begun new adventures. This site will remain as an archive of the accomplishments of the openNASA experiment.

Ali Llewellyn

The Open Government Initiative is excited to invite Syracuse University industrial and interaction design student Katy Jeremko to share about the recent design charrette that Syracuse held in advance of the International Space Apps Challenge. This interactive event offered university students an opportunity to dialogue about space data while helping to shape the proposed challenges and applications of their solutions. You can follow Katy on Twitter at @katyjeremko.

When we’re children, we see magic everywhere; we like to pick things up, shake them, ask questions, and share our opinions about them. That sense of curiosity is what makes childhood so precious and unique to any other time in our lives. It’s a period in which we tinker without the restrictions and limitations of the world in which we live today, fraught with disbelief. However, we look forward to growing up when we’re young because we see the potential in everything, and we want the authority to participate in it.   Coming from the perspective of someone in the in-between of adulthood and childhood, I can safely say that there are still opportunities for little nuggets of magic despite the constraints of, “that won’t work” and “don’t do that”.

NASA’s Space Apps Challenges are important because they ignite this sense of wonder and creativity that has been stifled under the surface of society. This is the first time in a long time that there is a space being cultivated for a larger philanthropic purpose, stringing together the beginnings of ideas which will shape our future world. Everyday we hear about new projects or initiatives going on in the world, but there’s no concrete platform bridging them together. NASA is sharing its thoughts and ideas with the world, which is novel to the standard business model. Learning about the things themselves is shaping NASA’s reputation. By taking the role as the facilitator of these challenges, NASA is going to become the resource we all go to for bringing ideas to life. These challenges hit on all aspects of education, visualization, technology, livelihood, and beyond. The world is shifting towards collaboration, as well as things which are not removed from the understanding of any one person. It’s all about asking questions, not knowing, and finding great people who will fill in those gaps. It’s giving way to a new, participatory and reflective culture, erected by the likes of our greatest childhood dreams.

This past weekend, Syracuse University students were invited to participate in a dialogue concerning NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge. We took the opportunity to hold a Design Charrette, or collaborative design thinking session, to gather students from different practices together to have a discussion on the topics presented. I come from the background of studying Industrial and Interaction Design, which is founded on principles of considering systems - how they work, how they change, and how we react to them. Unlike any other major that I know of, we are encouraged to pursue a greater understanding of the relationships between people and things and are not afraid to collaborate and ideate. We don’t sit in a lecture hall, we don’t raise our hands to speak, and we don’t let any idea go untouched. This model is something that I believe NASA is starting to pursue at a greater capacity than ever before. It is the model which is taking the world by storm, as we’re seeing this through Cloud Computing, Open-Source frameworks, and social transparency on the web. With a greater number of pathways for communication, it’s hard to believe that nothing’s possible.

I’m in the generation where I’m going to be figuring out what role I play in the shifting world. Students like me will look to NASA as a resource and facilitator for ideas and concepts, as NASA’s name will become ubiquitous with “making it happen”. More than anything, by prompting conversation, NASA is preparing the world for what’s to come as we continue to develop. We may not see it now, but we should expect a new world of innovation, leveraged by the thoughts and participation of its citizens.

The students share more of their experiences here on video.