Universe in a Box is a low-cost activity kit developed to assist teachers and educators in bringing astronomy to the classroom and outreach programmes in science centres and planetariums. Several schools around the world have already begun to introduce astronomy at the elementary school level. But despite the enthusiasm of primary school teachers, the resources available are not always suited for practical activities, which are regarded as necessary elements to promote the understanding of scientific principles for children of all ages. Universe in a Box is consequently designed to explain the difficult and sometimes abstract concepts of astronomy to young children by providing both practical activities as well as the materials and models required to do them.
Universe in a Box has a modular design and comes with three modules: Earth-Moon-Sun System, The Planets, and The World of Constellations. A digital version of the activity handbook can be found here. Apart from the relevant background and activity descriptions, a handbook, which is in loose-leaf folder format, also offers ideas for teaching integrated astronomy with other disciplines, guidance on further experimentation, and photocopiable craft templates to extend and apply the newly learned knowledge.
Add-on modules on the life of a star, galaxies, and the Earth-Human system are currently in development, and educators are also encouraged to customize the box with additional activities and material of their own.
Either individual activities or entire modules can be used in a classroom or a playroom, with an ideal instructor to student ratio of 1:20. The box has been designed for any instructor, including but not limited to
UNAWE is currently working on establishing a framework for the production and distribution of Universe in a Box and hopes to reach localized versions of the box to its network countries within one year.
We have developed 50 prototypes (in English) under the project. These prototypes will be distributed in January 2013 to educators to test it out among teachers in their country, and propose changes for localized development (e.g., making changes relevant to hemisphere and language, etc.).
Do-it-Yourself kits for the Box will also be made available in 2013 for educators / countries to assemble their own versions.
We are eager to get your comments and remarks!
Universe in a Box is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Concept: Cecilia Scorza (EU-UNAWE Germany/House of Astronomy)
Project Management: Pedro Russo (UNAWE/Leiden University)
Educational Development: Cecilia Scorza and Natalie Fischer (EU-UNAWE Germany/House of Astronomy)
Business Development: Jaya Ramchandani (UNAWE/Leiden University)
Educational Support: Sara Khalafinejad (UNAWE/Leiden University) and Jos van den Broek (Leiden University)