Header Bar Graphic
Astronaut ImageArchives HeaderBoy Image

TabHomepage ButtonWhat is NASA Quest ButtonSpacerCalendar of Events ButtonWhat is an Event ButtonHow do I Participate Button
SpacerBios and Journals ButtonSpacerPics, Flicks and Facts ButtonArchived Events ButtonQ and A ButtonNews Button
SpacerEducators and Parents ButtonSpacer
Highlight Graphic
Sitemap ButtonSearch ButtonContact Button


How to Use

PART 1: What's a QuestChat? What's a Forum?
PART 2: How to prepare
PART 3: What does it look like?
PART 4: How to chat
PART 5: What's next?

In brief, a QuestChat is an opportunity for students and the general public to meet and ask questions of NASA experts using the Internet. From their own desktop, people can type comments and questions into a "chat room" and receive live responses from NASA personnel.

Chats are easy! They're powered by QuestChat software on the Quest website. No download is necessary - to participate, all you need is access to a graphical web browser (like Netscape or Internet Explorer).

With the proper teacher guidance, students will learn to:

  • research an area of expertise by reading the expert's profile
  • formulate quality questions
  • improve writing skills

Additionally, students will experience the excitement and inspiration accrued from interacting live with someone who works for NASA.


For those of you unable to attend live QuestChats, we invite you to participate in our NASA Quest forums. Forums give you a chance to interact with NASA experts at flexible and convenient times. During the scheduled forum, you may submit questions to our featured expert(s) in the same manner as you do with chats. Preparation for forums is quite similar to chats. So our guidelines for preparing for a chat may also be applied to our forums.

We expect that all participants will read the online profile of the expert (and any journals or previous chats available). This can be done either individually or with the teacher (depending on students' age). See our teaching tips.



Essentially, you will type your message into a box and submit it. The question or comment will in turn be posted into the Main Room where the expert and all chatters can see it and respond to it.

THE CHAT ROOM(S) Enter the chat room from the link provided at the chat announcement online entitled: "Join the Chat" In the room you will see:

  • Main Room
    In the interest of student safety and appropriateness, QuestChats are almost always moderated. This means your questions or comments appear in a queue that is only visible to the moderator. From this list the moderator selects and posts appropriate questions and comments into the Main Room. Note: Please notify your students of this process. Often students will repeat questions with irritated remarks if they don't see them immediately in the Main Room. If it happens repeatedly, the moderator may "block" the originator. This means that an individual or group will not be allowed to submit any more questions or comments.

THE FORUM ROOM(S) Enter the forum room either from the link provided at the forum announcement online entitled: "Join the forum" In the room you will see:

  • Main Room
    Typically your moderator will have left instructions prior to or at the beginning of a forum. You may submit comments or questions once you have reviewed the instructions.

    Forums are always moderated so your questions will be deposited in our forum queue and posted at various times. This means questions will be visible only to and reviewed by the moderator before they are posted in the Main Room.

    The featured expert(s) will log on at various times for the duration of the forum to answer questions posted. You may enter the forum room anytime throughout the scheduled forum time to post questions and read answers.

MESSAGE BOX AND CONTROLS Below the Main Room (you may have to scroll down) there is a large box. Directly under or beside that box is a button entitled "Refresh Screen or Submit New Message". (see illustration above). Both are key to your end of the chatting:

Use the box to type your message (It accommodates no carriage returns - one question per message please). The "Refresh Screen or Submit New Message" button both submits your message and also updates the Main Room. So, even if you aren't posting a message, in order to see new messages you must remember to click on this button frequently during the chat.

Below these are two additional entry areas:

  1. "Show at least" with space for a number controls how many messages you will see each time you refresh the screen. It is set at a default of 10, but you can change this number to accommodate your needs or screen size.
  2. "Scroll back __ messages" allows you the one-time option of reviewing however many messages you like. For instance, say you are showing 10 messages each refresh, and you'd like to look back 15 messages without changing your permanent setting. If you type in 15, for that one click of the refresh button you will go back 15 messages.

NOW IT'S YOUR TURN! As you enter the room, you will be offered the opportunity to enter your "handle." This is a means of identifying yourself so you will know when your question is posted. This should be a fictitious name as per COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) policy.

If you arrive after the chat has begun, please read all submitted question and answer pairs so that you will not duplicate what has already been answered. We try to avoid submitting the same question twice, even if the originator is different.

Have one representative type a message that lets us know that your group has arrived.

Then you're off and chatting! Please remind your students to be courteous, and when you are finished, the experts love to have you say goodbye and thanks.


When a chat is over please give us your comments about your experience in the chat room.

Then check the chats schedule for future chats. We hope this becomes an oft-repeated highlight to your classroom experience.

NASA Quest-wide live interactions including chats may be found at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events


Footer Bar Graphic
SpacerSpace IconAerospace IconAstrobiology IconWomen of NASA IconSpacer
Footer Info