Astronomy Education: LaSciL, D-SPACE, GEOStars
Historically, Astronomy is the first of the natural sciences with a profound impact in the development of new technologies in order to solve practical problems, such as the flow of time, as well as answer fundamental and cultural questions, such as what is our place in the Universe and whether life exists elsewhere. As a result, astronomy can be used not only to inspire the next generation but also to help all of us develop critical thinking and understand the importance of science and technology in the advancement of our civilization.
The members of the Institute of Astrophysics are committed to offer the local expertise in astronomy in the development of astronomy based hands-on exercises, and small research projects and experiments targeting students of elementary and secondary schools. In close collaboration with select schools of Greece, including Ellinogermaniki Agogi in Athens and Pagkritio in Heraklion, we participate in national and EC funded projects with astronomy education as the main focus. The current projects are:
La SciL – Large Scientific Infrastructures enriching online and digital Learning – is an Erasmus+ project to support high quality science teaching.
LaSciL envisions to empower and support teachers to become literate and fluent with the use of high quality digital tools. They will able to:
- create their own open educational resources for use of their students in open and distance learning;
- manage large numbers of students in an online environment, keeping them motivated to participate, maintaining or enhancing their science motivation;
- personalize their teaching practices based on the needs of their students.
To achieve that, LaSciL will …
- demonstrate innovative ways to involve teachers and students in eScience by sharing and exploiting the collective power of high quality digital resources (research facilities, scientific instruments, advanced ICT tools, simulation and visualisation applications and scientific databases;
- provide teachers cutting edge, curriculum-tailored educational scenarios that can be used, reused and adapted to their needs as well as act as a source of inspiration for the design of their own open educational content;
- careful monitor and assess the teacher training and implementation with students;
- select a series of good practices and construct a roadmap both for supporting science teachers and a for proposing a new organizational framework for the collaboration between schools and research infrastructures;
- demonstrate effective ways for involving a broader set of actors in the use of research infrastructures by developing a framework of actions that will attract young people to science and pool talent to scientific careers.
Discovery Space: an HFRI funded project for the Development of a Network of Innovation and Dissemination of Astronomy Education in Primary and Secondary Schools through the online use of the telescopes of the Skinakas Observatory
The DSpace project proposes the use of the Skinakas Observatory robotic telescopes for educational use through the development of an interactive platform *Discovery Space – Dspace) which will introduce students and teachers to Astronomy and Astrophysics. The educational communities will have the chance to operate the telescope and get images of the night sky as well as images of the Sun. The project proposes also the creation of DSpace nodes in different schools across the country which will act as educational as well as information hubs for the local communities. The selected school units will operate in at least three modes in the framework of the project:
- Their educational communities will support activities and projects which will be based on the use of scientific data that will be acquired using the telescope. The projects will be designed for both primary and secondary school students according to the educational needs of the participating schools.
- They will operate as training centers for teachers and as information centers for the local communities. Seminars and info days will be organized in the DSpace nodes. The project will support the development of virtual communities where teachers will be able to share experiences and best practices. The consortium considers the active participation to such virtual communities as a unique professional development activity.
- The selected school nodes will organize and support local and national level activities like astronomy contests and summer schools.
GEOStars: is a project funded by Interreg Greece-Cyprus
The general goal of the project is to improve the number of visitors and consequently the economic development of the three recognized Geoparks of Crete and Cyprus. These three areas, Skinakas and Sitia in Crete and Troodos in Cyprus are considered to be the most depopulated areas of the islands while at the same time they have special environmental and natural mountainous characteristics that provide them with common comparative advantages of tourism development based on 'Geo'. In particular for Skinakas Observatory, the project contributes to the construction of a new dome which will house a modern robotic telescope, that will be available for online observations, as well as supports the creation of educational material for astronomy targeting the general public.
One of the deliverables of the project was an astronomy education flyer entitled "A journey through the cosmos" (available here in greek and in english), as well as an album entitled "A view to the Universe" with astronomical photos obtained with the telescopes of Skinakas Observatory. A selection of the photos is available in the gallery of the institute.