Universe Awareness (UNAWE), which uses astronomy to inspire and educate underprivileged young children, has been recognised for its educational value by Science Magazine with its Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) award. UNAWE shares the prize with an interactive drawing workshop called Deadly Moons.
UNAWE and Deadly Moons are the recipients of the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) award. Science Magazine introduced the SPORE award as a means to showcase the best educational resources that are available on the Internet and to bring them to a wider audience. "Improving science education is an important goal for all of us at Science," says editor-in-chief Bruce Alberts.
UNAWE is an international programme that uses the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire children aged 4-10 years, particularly those from an underprivileged background. The programme uses astronomy to cultivate a sense of perspective, foster a global citizenship and stimulate interest in science at a crucial age in a child’s development. The UNAWE website hosts a vast repository of educational materials that are produced by the programme’s network of almost 500 educators and astronomers in 40 countries – one of the biggest international networks of science educators.
Deadly Moons is a one-hour interactive drawing workshop that teaches children aged 4-12 years about our Moon and the other exotic moons in our Solar System. The first workshop was held in Ireland in March 2008. The title of the workshop was born from the many times that Irish children were heard saying 'That’s deadly!’ when looking at our Moon through a telescope, says Deirdre Kelleghan, creator of the Deadly Moons workshop. “On the street, the word ‘deadly’ means ‘amazing’, so it is a positive word with everyday familiarity to children,” she says.
Kelleghan has worked closely with UNAWE to share the Deadly Moons resources with other educators since the workshop’s beginnings in 2008. “We are delighted to share this prize with Deadly Moons, which is also one of the most popular activities contributed to the UNAWE website,” says Carolina Ödman-Govender, UNAWE International Project Manager between 2005 and 2010.
Pedro Russo, the current UNAWE International Project Manager adds: “We hope that this award will inspire more people to get involved with UNAWE and to organise activities for their local communities that can be translated and shared with the wider global community.”
You can find out more about UNAWE and Deadly Moons in the SPORE essay published online and in Science Magazine, one of the world’s leading scientific journals, on August 26, 2011.
UNAWE was initiated by IAU Vice President George Miley in 2005 with support from the Royal Netherlands Academy and the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. It was selected as a Cornerstone project of the successful UN-ratified IAU/UNESCO International Year of Astronomy in 2009 (IYA2009). During IYA2009, thousands of UNAWE activities were organised in more than 40 countries reaching hundreds of thousands of children.
UNAWE is an important component of the IAU Strategic Plan 2010 – 2020 “Astronomy for the Developing World” in which astronomy is used as a tool for global capacity building at all levels of society - primary, secondary and university education, research and public outreach. The Plan builds from the successful UN-endorsed International Year of Astronomy 2009.
Earlier this year, the European Union granted 1.9 million Euros to the UNAWE project designed to deliver a 3-year Universe Awareness programme in six countries: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and the United Kingdom.
- Read the Science Magazine essay, “Crowd-sourced education and astronomical perspectives for young children around the world” by Carolina J. Ödman-Govender and Deirdre Kelleghan: http://www.sciencemag.org/site/special/spore/
- The IAU Strategic Plan: http://iau.org/static/education/strategicplan_091001.pdf
- Deadly Moons on the Universe Awareness website: http://unawe.org/resources/education/deadly_moons_guide_158/