65 educators, teachers and astronomers from 23 different countries all over the world participated in the Universe Awareness (UNAWE) International Workshop, that took place from 5 – 9 October 2015 at Leiden Observatory and was part of the United Nation’s World Space Week.
Universe Awareness (UNAWE) uses exciting aspects of astronomy to inspire children aged 4 to 10, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and raise their interest for science and technology. UNAWE also uses the perspective and vastness of the Universe to foster tolerance for different cultures and develop a sense of world citizenship. UNAWE components are teacher training, production of outstanding educational materials and an interdisciplinary network. The biannual workshop provides a space to members of the UNAWE network to share ideas, techniques and resources that have been developed and implemented by the team and its partners. This year the workshop specially welcomed refugees to participate and encouraged the connection of the UNAWE programme with refugee communities.
One goal of the workshop was to further consolidate existing UNAWE astronomy education and communication resources for very young children. Participants discussed the role of astronomy and space science in early childhood development, pedagogical content knowledge in space education and educational curriculum development. The workshop also addressed the evaluation of the long-term effectiveness of exposing very young children to inspirational and motivational astronomy activities. Finally, the workshop featured a educational resource fair, showcasing the best educational resources from UNAWE partners all over the world.
The workshop was organised in close collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). On Thursday, participants were invited to visit the ESTEC facilities. During the day, Matt Taylor, project scientist for the Rosetta Mission, gave an inspiring talk about comets, the Rosetta mission, and public outreach. Clara Cruz Nibrugge, science and project coordinator for ESA’s European Space Education Resource Office (ESERO), gave more insight in the ESA education programme. This was followed by a workshop by Wendy van der Putte from Science Center NEMO, ESERO the Netherlands, on how to use the Rosetta Mission to teach children about the solar system scales, water in the universe and life on Earth.
During the week several workshops were given by among others the Go-Lab project, IAU astroEDU, Teaching Enquiry with Mysteries Incorporated (TEMI) and Space Awareness. Space Awareness is a new international project, operated from Leiden Observatory, and funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. It offers a range of tools and activities to inspire children, teenagers, and teachers with space sciences. The project uses the excitement of space to raise their interest into science and technology and stimulate their sense of global citizenship. Another project from the UNAWE office that was launched this week, is Open Science Centre (OSC). OSC wants to connect remote communities with science and technology. It will be a learning and gathering space to inspire and engage local communities and thereby foster sustainable development. OSC actively contributes to several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as the promotion of equality between genders and communities, and it focuses on creative learning.
The next International UNAWE Workshop will be held in 2017.