A child's early years are widely regarded to be the most important for children's development and education. The idea behind Universe Awareness is to educate children aged 4-10 years (especially those from underprivileged communities) about astronomy, because it embodies a unique combination of scientific and cultural aspects:
Create an international network
Universe Awareness was founded in 2006, and now is active in 61 countries and comprises a global network of over 1,000 astronomers, teachers and other educators. The international network provides a platform for sharing ideas, best practices and resources between educators from around the world. The network will also be used to run ambitious global projects, with the aim of broadening children’s horizons beyond their local area and to show them that they are part of a global community.
Organise teacher training sessions
A particularly important goal of UNAWE is to provide training activities for teachers and other educators of young children. UNAWE aims to give teachers the confidence to introduce astronomy and other science topics in the classroom, and to create innovative methods for engaging young children in astronomy. To achieve this goal, UNAWE organises teacher training workshops and advertises other relevant training opportunities on the UNAWE website.
Develop educational resources
Learning should be exciting and fun – and this is never truer than when dealing with young children. UNAWE encourages learning through play and hands-on activities, such as the inflatable UNAWE Earthball, which has been immensely popular.
UNAWE has developed many resources, including an astronomy news service for kids, called Space Scoop, which is produced with a variety of partner institutes. The idea behind Space Scoop is to share with children the excitement that the latest scientific discoveries bring, and to demonstrate that there is still much to learn about the Universe – research that they could contribute to in the future. Space Scoop is also great a resource for teachers, acting as a focus for a classroom discussion.
Other educational materials include the popular Universe in a Box, beautifully illustrated hands-on games, adventure books and magazine features. All materials are available for free in the Resources section of this website and you are free to adapt these to suit your requirements as long as you credit Universe Awareness.