The federal government provides significant support for many of these informal education and outreach activities. For 15 years, NASA has devoted roughly 1 percent of the cost of major missions to education and public outreach and has created imaginative websites and activities involving the use of astronomical data for students, teachers, and the public. NSF supports astronomy education and public outreach through budget allocations at its observatories and technology centers, as well as through its Directorate for Education and Human Resources and specific grants programs, especially those for young people such as the CAREER and astronomy and astrophysics postdoctoral fellow awards. NSF Astronomy Division data indicate that more than 6 percent of research grant funding is devoted to education and special activities.
The funding for education and public outreach by NASA increased dramatically from 1996 to 2004 but has leveled off in the past half decade (Figure 4.6). For an even better return on the federal investment in education and public outreach, a more rigorous program of assessment is needed of outcomes and efficacy across