Focus Meeting 15 - Poster Abstracts


Design Thinking in Astronomy Education: a case study

García, Beatriz

In general terms, Design Thinking (DT) is a methodology inspired by the design process that was born at Stanford University in the 70s of the 20th century._x000D_ Essentially aims to solve the needs of people, using technologically possible tools, without losing sight of innovation. For this, 5 basic steps can be defined, applicable to almost all human activities in which innovation is centered on the person: empathize, define, devise, prototype and evaluate._x000D_ The DS allows finding solutions to learning problems, proposing simple and low cost activities, adapted to students. In certain aspects, it is based on the redesign of the student's educational experience, based on their qualities, interests, experiences, feelings. Each school, each course, each student has singularities and this type of approach to teaching takes them into account. Each step is adapted to the needs and times of the students, who change continuously._x000D_ The DT Methodology was applied in Argentina at the Physics and Astronomy space of a last year of secondary school, with students between 16 and 18 years old._x000D_ From the main themes that emerged from the initial dynamics in the year, based on the development of 2 techniques: brainstorming and mood board, such use exotic objects: black holes, stars of neutrons, stars in general, exoplanets or planets, and questions like how the Universe evolves? what is the Big Bang? ) the steps followed were guided by the premisses: imagine, build, share, evolve, to reach a final product to be exhibited and presented to all the school community._x000D_ This presentation shows the results of the application of this methodology and the final products, consisting of posters and modules with augmented reality, for which new software and different applications for cell phones were used.

Celebrating Eddington@Sundy 100 years later

Latas, Joana

The year of 2019 will mark the 100th anniversary of the experiment that confirmed the theory of general relativity. Principe was one of the main stages for the experiment during the total solar eclipse on May 29th, 1919 during an expedition led by Arthur Eddington to Principe. The experiment was also performed in Sobral, Brazil. The observations made in Principe were relevant to the History of Science and following developments in scientific endeavour. We are aiming for a 5-year program, 2015-2019 in which the local community becomes involved and takes ownership of this important initiative. Its culmination, on 29th of May 2019, will bring to Principe a sense of pride and will provide the opportunity for an exchange with the international scientific community. The centenary celebrations on Principe will promote a scientific and educational programme, through 4 pillars: Science, History of Science, Science Education and Outreach. The expected outcomes of this project range from the creation of a thematic space near the site where the observations took place in Principe Island to the production of a documentary devoted to the centenary, as well as exhibits and publications of the scientific events taking place during the event.

Astronomy Education and outreach for Earthquake affected Nepali students.

Acharya, Jayanta

Nepali Culture has many strong believe in communicating the Astronomy. There are some superstition. People think anything happen uncertain they blame some heavenly planets stars or Moon. Still people think earthquake is just because of the planets positions. Many reputed News paper journalists goes to the local priests to ask about future earthquake and any other changes. We organized a Astronomy Activities for the Earthquake affected students in three different places Gorkha, Nuwakot and Kathmandu most earthquake affected district in Nepal. there was 8.2 magnitude earthquake in 2015, and Hundreds of thousands of people their school going children were made homeless with entire villages flattened, across many districts of the country by the earthquake. Centuries-old buildings including many schools were destroyed. We thought Astronomy may help them to forget the fear of the earthquake because of it will be unique and new for their school activities. We are focused our activities in the one, school which are most affected in Nepal. In my talk I would like to explain and how we did Authentic and scientifically explained about earthquake through Astronomy education and outreach.Keywords: Astronomy, Earthquake, Telescope.  

African Astronomical Society

McGruder, Charles

African Astronomical Society (AfAS) was formed at an IAU symposium in Ouagadougou in December 2010 and was ceremoniously launched in Cape Town, South Africa in April 2011. We describe the structure of the society, its basic philosophy, present what AfAS has accomplished and what its near terms goals are.

Astronomy for Development in Brazil: education and the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity and class in STEM.

Alves-Brito, Alan

Brazil is Latin America’s largest country in area and one of the most populous countries in the world, with approximately 210 million people. It is also a former Portuguese colony, displaying a highly diverse population that includes indigenous, descendants of African slaves and European settlers. Brazil accounts for approximately 90% of the world’s population who speaks Portuguese. For more than 350 years, the country was the focus of a strong Atlantic slave trade, importing more enslaved Africa people than any other country and being the last country in the Western world to abolish the slavery system. South America’s most influential country, Brazil presents a strong economic power. However, throughout its history, Brazil has been a country with a high level of inequality.  Over the past few years it has made major strides in its efforts to raise millions out of poverty, but the gap between rich and poor remains high. In this work, I will discuss how Astronomy, which is a multidisciplinary field, can fascinate people of different ages and cultures, occupying a prominent place among the basic sciences to guarantee global development in the 21st century. I will show and discuss how some of our projects in Brazil, focused on Educational Astronomy, are changing the reality in this country by promoting the intersection of gender, race, ethnicity and class in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.

Quantitative and Qualitative Evaluation Methods to Assess New Experiential Teaching Techniques in Astronomy Theatre

Corbally, Christopher

These evaluations assess a supplementary astronomy text book meant to be used in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. It exists now only in English, but it is advertised on Amazon France, and on Chinese web sites. Its approach to learning science is experiential. Students get up and assume roles in small plays or view them.Our poster displays a selection of evaluation methods and analytical techniques, based on four evaluations of the book, SPACE SCIENCE AND ASTRONOMY THEATRE. All evaluations involved live enactments of astronomy scripts:pre-design focus meetings; trial questions (with community group of adults with children);structured evaluation of 3 teaching packages using a series of data collected at 4 time points (for quantitative analysis); focus discussions (with Spanish-origin, American senior high school class);demonstration of a single package using evaluators, then students, in theatrical roles (with a junior college class); anddemonstration in a university astronomy class, Q & A (200 students).The poster includes methods of program evaluation and policy analysis that can help in demonstrating efficacy in same-country/multiple group, or cross-national settings.Policy analysis of astronomy organizations’ goals for a worldwide workforce. What do they need to know?Analysis of deficiencies in data on space science careers. Issues of gender and developing country origin.Planning data collection design in stages. Designing instruments congruent with available data types and desired analysis.Focus groups for different types of respondents. Include expert focus groups.Quantitative data collection and analysis (before/after; time series potentially for ANOVA when N is sufficient).Administrative records data review (record number, gender, age, year, special program).Analyze change in Self-report questions over time (“humanities” v. “science” student) (relative “affectedness”) (orientation to science positive/negative).

Teaching Astronomy in Ghana

Löbling, Lisa

The European Southern Observatory Astronomy Research Training (ESO ART) is a newly established programme which will be conducted for the first time in Ghana in April 2018. In collaboration between ESO staff members and members of the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute, ESO ART aims at providing undergraduate students from developing countries access to astronomy and at bringing them into contact with the global astrophysical community via mentoring. During the workshop in Ghana, the students will be taught by a group of ESO scientists basic analytical skills and knowledge to tackle open questions in modern astronomy. Proceeding from the workshop, students interested in pursuing astronomical research will have the opportunity to create the basis for future research projects._x000D_ In this talk we will summarize the experiences of the first ESO ART workshop, and discuss possible avenues for future collaborations

An Affordable Remotely Controlled Telescope for Research and Education

Ratzka, Thorsten

Viewing with a telescope objects that remain invisible to the naked eye is a fascination that not only astrophysicists share. Telescopic work naturally sparks the interest in basic research, but also in engineering sciences and informatics. A major challenge for teachers and tutors is the access to telescopes that can be operated in a professional way. Remote operation is a approach that has proven to be very efficient, but the number of telescopes is limited and the instruments (most often an imager) can not be changed._x000D_ At the Lustbühel Observatory in Graz (Austria) we successively developed a comparatively cheap infrastructure for the remote operation of our 50cm-telescope. Up to four different instruments can be mounted at the same time and switching between, e.g., imaging and spectroscopy only takes minutes. A camera inside the dome provides a view of the telescope and dome movements. Two all-sky cameras monitor the sky. Sensors measure the weather and sky conditions._x000D_ The telescope serves us well for our astrophysics research, plays an important role in the education of our students, and is a highlight of our public outreach events. While students very often prefer to operate the telescope from the control room, scientific programs can be performed from any office with internet access. During public demonstrations, the instrument control software and the obtained data can be shown side by side with the moving telescope and the sky above the observatory._x000D_ Our concept of combining a small-size telescope with a low-cost remote access was recently adapted to our "Ballistische Messkammer" and could be easily deployed on various sites, either with existing computer-controlled telescopes or with affordable new telescopes. The sites can be chosen with respect to their observing conditions and the already available infrastructure. The local and especially the remote users would benefit from a large freedom in developing educational and scientific programmes.

Toward new IAU Strategic Plan

Hojaev, Alisher S.

Coming closer to the completion of the first decadal (2010-2020) Strategic plan of the IAU on Astronomy for Development and preparing the new IAU Strategic Plan we should note the benevolent influence of IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) on convergence of astronomers and enhance their role in research, education and outreach. There are undoubted achievements, however, the OAD's role in promotion and supporting astronomy at regional and local level through international scientific and technological cooperation, the exchange of experts and assistance in the training of relevant specialists should be strengthened and enhanced. Until now, our colleagues of National Astronomical Observatories of Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) together with astronomers of Ulugh Beg Astronomical Institute of Uzbek Academy of Sciences have renovated and modernized the 1 meter Zeiss telescope at Maidanak observatory (Uzbekistan) and we started deep halph-sky survey within international collaboration with NAOC, Xinjiang astronomical observatory (Chinese Academy of Sciences, China) and Steward observatory (University of Arizona, USA) in special SAGE intermediate- and narrow- band photometric system (developed by astronomers of NAOC). Recently, thanks to governmental efforts to promote and enhance astronomical research, which has deep ancient traditions and world-class achievements in Uzbekistan, a remarkable breakthrough in the development of astronomy and space sciences, education and their promotion is expected. A park of astronomy and aeronautics, an astronomical boarding school are being created, research has been started to create a 4-meter adaptive mirror telescope with laser correcting system. The necessary assistance and possible support from the OAD are described and discussed in the 4 meter telescope creation, the developing of the focal plane instrumentation and preparation of highly qualified astronomers who will be the local users for the advanced telescope.

In the Pursuit of Astronomy Education and Outreach in India

Shah, Priya

I shall discuss various efforts being made at the level of citizens, school and college students and university researchers as an individual, team as well as part of the Public Outreach and Education Commitee of the Astronomical Society of India. I shall discuss the Lunar Eclipse Campaign, aimed at confronting supersitions and false beliefs in people regarding eclipses. I shall talk about the Zero Shadow Day Campaign as well as the different simple experiments done in schools with minimum tools to explain important concepts about the Sun and the Moon's movements. The Astronomy Olympiad program in India will also be discussed. We are organising an Astro-Expt themed workshop to set up a repository of experiments that can be adopted by Physics Departments in the country to address the lack of experiments in our education system. I shall also talk about "Shrishti Astronomy" and various activities conducted in Hyderabad, India to reach out to people. I shall also discuss the pitfallls and challenges and suggest working models that may prove more effective.

IAU Office of Astronomy for Development

Venugopal, Ramasamy

The Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) aims to use astronomy, including its tools, practitioners and their skills, to benefit society. The OAD, a joint project of the International Astronomical Union and the South African National Researach Foundation, has the vision of using 'Astronomy for a better world'. The OAD coordinates and funds projects that use astronomy to tackle the sustainable development goals (SDG) defined by the United Nations. Having funded more than 120 projects over six years, the OAD is in a position to look back and learn from these projects, their challenges, shortcomings and successes. It also provides the opportunity to learn where and how projects have applied astronomy effectively to contribute to sustainable development as well as the gaps in project ideas. This presentation will focus on various ways past OAD projects have tackled a number of the SDGs and kickstart discussions on our future heading.

Astronomy for Development

Venugopal, Ramasamy

Our modern, technological world owes much to science research and investment. But in the recent past, science has alienated itself from the public and public support for science is dwindling in several countries. The relevance of pure science research is being increasingly questioned. Curiosity about the natural world is no longer an accepted justification for science investments. Recently, a handful of organizations from various disciplines (Physics for Development, Data for development, Astronomy for Development) have taken the lead on using and shaping scientific knowledge and expertise to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Using science to directly impact on the world's biggest challenges could both bolster the public view of science and scientists as well as bring science closer to the people. Since 2011, the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) has been funding and coordinating projects that use astronomy to benefit society. These projects contribute to the OAD vision of using 'Astronomy for a better world'. Astronomy for development, and broadly science for development, provide an approach for communicating the continued relevance of science with the emphasis on people and society. This poster conceptualizes the idea of Astronomy for development including a few practical examples of OAD funded projects that have used Astronomy to impact lives as well as the possible role and collaboration with other fields of science.The OAD is a joint partnership between the International Astronomical Union and the South African National Research Foundation.

Use of Astronomy to Motivate the Girl Child into Science Related Careers

Jurua, Edward

The government of Uganda has a policy to improve the number of female students in tertiary institutions. This has motivated very few female students into science related programmes compared to the humanities in tertiary institutions. In the case of Mbarara University of Science and Technology, more male students are enrolled at undergraduate annually than the female students. This has a direct effect on the number of female students continuing to postgraduate studies in science related programmes. This could be due to socio-cultural reason. In addition, there are negative influences from the society, with the believe that science careers are meant for the male gender but not the female gender. We used Astronomy outreach to girls’ secondary schools to motivate the female students into the sciences.  In this paper, the use of astronomy to motivate and encourage the girl child into science related programmes in tertiary institutions in Uganda is discussed.


Allen, Christine

After 44 years of continuously publishing the Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica, we cast a short retrospective view on its history emphasizing its regional impact.RMxAA was founded in 1974. The journal has published original research papers in all areas of astronomy, astrophysics and related fields. Until 1994 RMxAA also published the proceedings of astronomical conferences held in Mexico and Latin America. Since 1995 a Series devoted exclusively to such proceedings was founded, RMxAC, Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica Serie de Conferencias.All papers submitted to RMxAA are strictly refereed. RMxAA is included in the most important international indexes. Both publications are fully integrated into the ADS. Their contents have always been freely available to the general public. This ensures a wide international visibility, comparable to that of the best astronomical journals.The impact factor of RMxAA has varied over the years, mostly as a consequence of small number statistics. The average impact factor is about 2.4, greater than that of all but a few Latin American scientific journals.The editorial independence of RMxAA, the fact that there are no page charges for authors, and that the printed version is distributed free of charge to astronomical libraries all over the world has contributed to the development of astronomy, especially in Latin America.  The Conference Series has published the proceedings of IAU Latin American Regional Meetings (LARIM), as well as those of Astronomía Dinámica en Latino América (ADeLA) and other astronomical meetings in the region,  thus stimulating regional astronomical development and collaboration. 

An outstanding Star Party in Mexico and Latin America - November 2017

Torres-Peimbert, Silvia

As it has been the practice since the International Year of Astronomy 2009, simultaneous star parties were organized in Mexico. Last year November 25th, 100 different sites throughout the country participated. There were also five sites in Colombia and two more in Argentina. The number of participants this year, in all sites involved, was  very large, more than 200,000 persons. Altogether, since 2009, the total number of participants of this yearly event is well above a million and a half persons.As part of this celebration a day long fair at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico campus in Mexico City has taken place in 2017. On this site the celebration has traditionally been outstanding. On this particular one, there were 850 volunteers, 220 telescopes installed, 59 thematic tents, 395 public lectures, and a large number of astronomy related activities; altogether 80,000 people attended. This star party has become an expected event by the local general public.

Oral Histories of Individuals Involved in Astronomy in South Africa

Leeuw, Lerothodi

We will present progress and future plans of a project on oral histories of individuals involved in astronomy in South Africa. The project is to conduct, archive and showcase the recording of histories of individuals involved in astronomy in South Africa, and will mark one of the first initiatives of South Africa's National Research Foundation Roadmap for the History of Astronomy in South Africa. Uniquely, the interviews will be video recorded, transcribed, and made publicly available online. In interviews of these individuals, the scientific practice, discovery and innovation of astronomy in South Africa will be recorded for analytical study and presentation in scholarly outputs and public outreach presentations, as well as archiving.

astroEDU Core Project: Provision of K-10 Activity Collections for Common Curriculum Goals

Fitzgerald, Michael

With the recent completion of a major review (Salimpour et al. 2018) of the curricula around of the OECD countries, China and South Africa, we can now identify common astronomical themes that run through most formal school curricula in the developed world. Here we present the first astroEDU Core Project: To create a collection of activities and related teacher training materials for the common astronomy elements of primary and junior high school.This presentation outlines the project and launches a call-out to research astronomers and astronomy educators alike to contribute to a themed collection of activities and training materials. astroEDU intends to provide a complete set of coherent activities that could be used in elementary and junior high schools worldwide. In doing so, astroEDU aims to support IAU Office of Astronomy for Development activities in promoting development of astronomy education programmes internationally.Activities submitted are peer-reviewed by an educator and a professional astronomer which provides credibility to the activities. astroEDU activities are open-access in order to make the activities accessible to educators around the world while letting them discover, review, distribute and remix the activities. astroEDU is endorsed by the International Astronomical Union meaning each activity is given an official stamp by the international organisation for professional astronomers.

Enquiry based module for understanding Lunar Observations

Sule, Aniket

It has been widely reported that students, teachers and general public hold several misconceptions about observational phenomena related to the moon. These include connecting the earth's shadow to the lunar phases, thinking lunar phases will be different at different locations on the earth etc. Typical remedial actions suggest improved explanations in the textbook or improved explanations by the instructor. Here we present a new approach to address these problems. We have developed a stand alone learning unit which encourages students to make their own conclusions from lunar observations. The structure of the unit dispels all these commonly held misconceptions through enquiry based approach. This unit was developed under a new talent nurture programme of Government of India and early trials with some participating teachers demonstrate its tremendous potential.

Standardising Teacher Training with 10 Years of Lessons from Galileo Teacher Training Programme

Heenatigala, Thilina

The Galileo Teacher Training Programme was launched in 2009 as a Cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009). The core concept of the programme is to train teachers around the world and to better equip them with right resources and knowledge to use astronomy as a tool in the classroom.During the almost 10 years of the period, the GTTP has trained and certified 20, 000 teachers around the world, while the programme has reached a total of more than 50, 000 teachers. The host organisation of GTTP, the Núcleo Interactivo de Astronomia (NUCLIO) alone has trained and certified about 5, 000 teachers in Portugal, while reaching about 10, 000. GTTP has trained teachers in collaboration with European funded projects; Discover the COSMOS, Inspiring Science Education, Go-Lab, Space Awareness, among others bringing the latest trends, tools and evaluation in teacher training in astronomy education. The programme has also collaborated with major partner organisations such as Global Hands-on Universe, European Space Agency, European Science Education Academy and Leiden University to create interdisciplinary training events.Combining these lessons learnt, evaluation and experience from the past decade, the programme will build a competency profile for teacher training in astronomy to be used in IAU activities in training teachers, OAD funded projects, OAO network, and affiliated projects. The core competencies will include developing, implementing, organising, and evaluating of teaching STEAM subjects using astronomy as a tool. The new GTTP methodology will represent the 21st-century skills for teachers as well as produce the highest quality of content reviewed by experts in the field. The characteristics of the competency profile will align and complement the framework of IAU strategic plan 2020-2030.

Astronomy for Africa: Student Support for Astronomy Modules via Distance

Schroeder, Anja

We obtained an OAD grant to support African students to register for astronomy courses at UNISA to learn more about Astronomy. This poster presents the project and the outcome.

Developing Astronomical Skills in Nepal

Bhattarai, Suresh

Developing Astronomical Skills in Nepal (DASN) is a new initiative at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) designed for undergraduate students in Nepal. It aims to motivate undergraduate students for project works in space science/astronomy/astrophysics and help during their project/research work.This paper aims to share the progress of the initiative and highlights the importance of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the implementation of this challenging initiative in Nepal. The challenges we faced during the communication to different colleges for the participation will also be shared. Our strategic approach to have active role of each colleges of the participants in the initiative will be explained. It will also share how we are integrating this program to promote capacity building in each of the seven federal states of Nepal.

Science literacy and scientific temper - lessons from India

Ramanujam, Niruj

India has a substantial and vibrant professional astronomy community, with strong links with mainstream astronomy communication organisations like amateur astronomy groups, planetaria etc. In addition, India also has a strong tradition of popular science movements mainly motivated by social justice aims, as well as informal teacher networks, that are predominantly semi-urban and rural. I will talk about the latter communities, and how their work on spreading science literacy and the uniquely Indian concept of 'scientific temper' aids the goals of critical inquiry, rationality and citizenship. In particular, I will talk about the astronomy component of these programs, specially in the context of my work both through the Public Outreach and Education Committee of the Astronomical Society of India, and at a personal level.

Women in Astronomy Nepal: Its Initiatives and Challenges

Dwa, Manisha

Women in Astronomy Nepal-WIAN is a special initiative at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) started in 2015. It aims to act as a forum where women who are doing science or has interest in science can come and explore the possibilities of knowing the universe.  The initiative has mainly three programs: Women in Outreach, Women in Science Award and Publication. Women in Outreach proposed to allow women/girls more access to our outreach activities in Nepal. Similarly, Women in Science Award aims to provide better exposure to the Nepali women student and young professionals working in the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The initiative proposed to work on the publications of poster/flyer/Book highlighting the contribution of women in Nepal and abroad to STEM to their respective society leading their contribution to global community.This paper will present the status of female participations in our four major projects: Universe Awareness (for primary level or basic level students), All-Nepal Asteroid Search Campaign (for all level of students), National Astronomy Olympiad (for high school students-school level) and Developing Astronomical Skills in Nepal (for undergraduate level students-university level). Also, the challenges while working for women in a country like Nepal will be highlighted. It will also share the impacts of its program to national and international community in brief.

Developing a sustainable astronomy education in Vietnam with external supports

Nguyen-Luong, Quang

Our previous IAU-OAD activities focus mainly on public audience in order to increase the awareness of astronomy in Vietnam. Now, while maintaining the energy of that spirit, we also expand our activities to leverage the educational and professional status of astronomy in Vietnam. To continue that development and progress toward a more sustainable development of astronomy in Vietnam, we are moving into new directions. First, we are conducting a joint project between Tay Nguyen University (Vietnam), NAOJ (Japan), Kyoto University (Japan) to build an observatory in Tay Nguyen university for educational and training purposes. The plan of the project was already set and the budget is planned. Secondly, we are actively send staffs and students abroad for training and research collaboration with international institutes such as Paris Observatory, Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy. Third and more importantly, we are setting a mechanism to welcome trained astronomers and use their talent to create more synergy in Vietnam, especially in under-developed part of the country.

Astronomy education in Jordan

Suleiman, Nofoz

I present a brief status report for the education of astronomy in Jordan at different stages: primary schools, secondary schools, and universities. I have collected detailed information contacting members of science faculties’ staff at various higher education institutions, also from the official curriculum in the ministry of education, and official websites as well. I will show, that astronomy and space science is well represented among the science subjects for both primary and secondary schools, and an interest is seen on both the side of educators and students. But that interest is missed in higher education for a sundry reason, that there is no astronomy department at all at any Jordanian university. Several attempts from individual and collaborate potentials have been made to develop this field in Jordan but it still needs more practical solutions. Therefore, I recommended to award regional and international grants for number of students annually. These grants will promote them to study the Astronomy in specialized way, and to build up an astronomical society and astronomers who will be capable for competitive research activities in the future.

Astrobiology education for teachers in Brazil

Emilio, Marcelo

In Brazil astrobiology education is rarely observed, despite the growing development of astrobiology as a science. In this work we seek to identify the importance of astrobiology for the formation of Science and Biology teachers in Brazil, as well as to recognize the knowledge and attitudes of undergraduate students of biological sciences, who attend astrobiology classes. The information was collected through the application of a questionnaire, consisting of closed (multiple choice) and open (descriptive) questions. With the questionnaire we sought to identify what astrobiology represents for the investigated students (N = 20). The knowledge that students have about astrobiology is divided into five categories: Science that studies / finding life in the Universe; Science that studies the origin of life; Science that studies the evolution of life; Science that seeks to identify biomolecules in space; Science that links Astronomy to Biology. The students associated astrobiology primarily with remote sensing of life and the interaction between life and astrophysical events. The attitudes that academics have regarding astrobiology are satisfactory, 55% of those surveyed believe that this Science is important for the training of science and biology teachers, and 45% believe it to be very important. When asked about the scientific knowledge of astrobiology, 55% of the students believe that they will use this knowledge in their professional life, and 40% said that they will certainly use it. With this work we recognize astrobiology as a structuring part of the formation of science and biology teachers, in addition to its importance for the academic in formation.

Bringing Radio Astronomy to the poorest community

obi, ikechukwu

We describe the  set up of a  "Poor man Radio Telescope" that is  based on the software defined radio (SDR) systems  that will serve as an indispensable tool in bringing the techniques and thrills  of radio astronomy to the reach of the poorest community in Nigeria. The target audience are primary and high school students who have little or no knowledge in the invisible world of  radio astronomy in contrast  to the visible optical astronomy. The radio telescope comes along with some  hands-on-exercises that can be incorporated into the schools curriculum. We discuss our experiences in schools where this radio telescope  has been introduced.

Using VPython in the Cloud as a Mode of Teaching in General Education Astronomy

Montgomery, Michele

In this work, we discuss our strategies to encourage a culturally diverse population of general education astronomy students at a large, research-oriented university in an urban setting within the United States to write python code in the cloud to learn basic physics and astronomy principles. In addition to presenting these findings of learning by writing and running code, we also present our findings of which groups tended to opt-out from participation and why, a cognitive based research study.

Project: Center of archeology and astronomy in Coaque

Vásquez, Nicolás

The astronomical history of Ecuador has been misinterpreted during decades, it is believed that astronomy starts on the XVIII century. Ecuador is one of the countries where the equatorial line crosses. Before the Incas, cultures as Valdicia (3000 B.C) , Jama Coaque (500 B.C) show understanding of astronomical phenomena on the archaeological register. The interpretation of iconography suggest recursive images related to the sun, the moon and the stars and the evidence of a developed agriculture suggest the understanding of the solar time. In the coast of Ecuador in the province of Manabí, there is a iconic place where astronomy has converge during the whole story of the country. Beginning with prehispanic cultures as Valdivia and Jama Coaque the history of astronomy began. In 1736 the French Geodesic Mission arrive to Punta Palmar, in Manabí Ecuador and determine the first 0 Latitude point for his work. And finally, studies of astroparticle astrophysics are propose since the 0 Latitud offers the highest magnetic rigidity for particles coming from the cosmos. Nevertheless the region of Manabí is one of the poor regions of the country. After the earthquake in 2016, Manabí is the region with problems on education, gender, inequality, natality and lack of services. In association with Escuela Superior Politécnica de Manabí (ESPAM), Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and Escuela Politécnica Nacional (EPN) and the community of COAQUE we propose to build an interactive museum combining the arqueological resources of the site combining with geodesic history of the region.

Some reflections on the total lunar eclipse campaign of January 2018

Shastri, Prajval

A total lunar eclipse occurred on the 31 January 2018, starting around moon rise throughout South Asia. Eclipses continue to draw responses of fear and superstition in large sections of the public in India, even among people with tertiary educational qualifications. It is of concern that  the learning of science in formal spaces appears to be having only a minimum impact on mindsets, and that despite the generous funding that scientific research institutions have received over several decades, scientific thinking is in deficit in larger society. A campaign was organised around the total lunar eclipse of January 2018 in order to use the inspirational cosmic event to build scientific awareness and maximise viewing of the eclipse throughout India. Information in multiple languages was made available, and dissemination of information and resources was done using a combination of the internet, social media and country-wide popularisation networks. The details of the campaign and some of the lessons drawn will be discussed.

About astronomy outreach in Mexico

Mujica, Raul

The astronomical vocation in Mexico has a long tradition that comes from the prehispanic cultures that adored the Sun and developed outstanding abilities to observe our star. They left several testimonies of this wisdom in codices,  sculptures and in the architecture of their buildings. The tradition has been maintained, Mexico has a very robust professional astronomical community and a community of very enthusiastic amateur astronomers, also with a great tradition, for example, the Astronomical Mexican Society was founded more than 115 year ago, being the second amateur astronomy association founded in the world.More important is that, between these two groups, there is also a long history of collaboration bringing astronomy to the great public.Outreach programs in our country are of high quality, mainly thanks to this collaboration between amateur astronomy groups, astronomers and science popularizers who are very well organized in networks, such as the Mexican Association of Planetariums, the Association of Science Centers and Museums, the Science Popularizers Network, etc.  Maybe one of the most important is the organization “Noche de las Estrellas (NdE)” with members all around the country. NdE is coordinated through a National Committee composed of representatives of some of the major astronomical research and outreach institutions in Mexico. Up to date, the NdE network is composed of more than 100 groups, named local committees, distributed throughout the states of the Mexican Republic. The groups include science museums, planetariums, cultural centers, civil associations, universities, etc. We have plenty of experience organizing series of public talks, workshops, star parties, exhibitions, contests, science fairs, and many other activities to promote scientific vocation among the young Mexican population. I will talk about several current astronomy outreach programs in which the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics is involved. 

Inspiring Global Grassroots Learning Networks with Astronomy

Noel-Storr, Jacob

The mission of InsightSTEM is to democratize STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) knowledge through exploration. We work with grassroots networks around the world consisting of high school and university students, teachers, families and communities, and young STEM professionals to help them engage and inspire others in STEM education. Astronomy is well known to be an inspiring topic to use in STEM engagement programs but is often overlooked in the preparation of STEM outreach facilitators in countries with lower Gross Domestic Income per Capita where conducting astronomical research and astronomical research facilities may be a rarity. Often in the communities we work with, we find that inspiring topics, such as astronomy, can be overlooked in favour of more survivalistic topics centring around safety and public health. We recognize that astronomy may be lower on the list of ‘need to learn’ topics, but believe it is a mistake to overlook the inspirational value for learners in these nations and we strive, along with our grassroots Insightful Teachers, High School Scholars, Campus Ambassadors, and Young STEM Professionals, to include astronomical topics and explorations in their professional learning to engender a more inspirational and aspirational slant to STEM education and outreach activities, to move the next generations towards their future place in the world. In this presentation, we will share ways that we have developed economical means of enabling our InsightSTEMmers to inspire others and engage them in the exploration of genuine astronomical and space mission data that is available to everyone on the planet.

Exploring The Universe from west Africa

Kolenberg, Katrien

In Senegal astronomy is only known through outreach activities organized by local amateurs, even if the university sometimes hosts guest lectures in astronomy.  My PhD thesis fits into the framework of setting up professional astronomy in Senegal, and it is part of a continental-wide Initiative for Planetary and Space Sciences ( partnership has been established for this project between the University of Cadi Ayyad in Morocco, the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Senegal, the Observatories of Paris and Midi-Pyrénées in France, and the University of Antwerp in Belgium.I will spend the first year of my PhD mostly in Belgium, getting acquainted with astronomy research and procedures for astronomical observations, while following the developments of the setup of a local observatory in Senegal, in collaboration with the Ministry for Research, Higher Education and Innovation of Senegal, and the Senegalese Association for the Promotion of Astronomy.   Solar system research, exoplanets characterization, survey of variable starts are possible research topics where high-level contributions are possible with modest telescopes.

Student and Community Engagement in Astronomy Through Experiential Learning

Ibrahim, Alaa

Fulfilling the broader impact of research is an excellent opportunity for educational activities that connect scientists and society and enhance students and community engagement in STEM fields. Here we present the experience developed in this endeavor as part of our research and educational projects that introduced educational and outreach activities that included core curriculum course development for university students from various majors, community-based learning projects, citizen science and outreach programs to school students and community members. Through these activities, students worked with the project scientists on a variety of activities that ranged from citizen science and undergraduate research to running mass experiments and community awareness campaigns through the production of short documentaries and communicating them with stakeholders and target groups, including schools and TV stations. The activities enhanced students learning and the public awareness. It also connected effectively the project scientists with college and university students a well as wider segments of the society, which resulted in a host of benefits including better scientific literacy and appreciation to the role of scientists, promoting scientists as role models, sharing the values of science, and motivating future generations to pursue a career in science.

Report on the West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers (WAISSYA)

Okere, Bonaventure

The West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers (WAISSYA) is a week-long introduction to astronomy for university students and teachers from West Africa, organized by a collaboration of scientists from Nigeria, Ghana, Gabon, Canada, and Germany. WAISSYA is held bi-annually -- so far in Ghana (2017) and Nigeria (2013 and 2015).  WAISSYA's vision is to: (1) Contribute to building a critical mass of astronomers in West Africa; (2) Contribute to empowering young West Africans in becoming scientific leaders; and (3) Share ideas about teaching and learning between West Africa and North America / Europe.  We will highlight four major aspects of WAISSYA and their significance to Astronomy for Development in West Africa: (1) our innovative curriculum focusing on “inquiry,” in which students ask and investigate their own mini-research questions in small teams; (2) an authentic research experience for graduate students (in 2017 at the new Ghana Radio Observatory); (3) "paired-teaching," in which international partners teach together to learn new teaching methods; and (4) evaluations to measure the effectiveness of the program.


Korhonen, Heidi

The main educational component of the EU Funded Optical Infrared Coordination Network for Astronomy (OPTICON) is organised through its Work Package 12 (WP12): 'Enhancing community skills, Integrating communities'. WP12 runs a community training programme which delivers expert knowledge in infrastructure use and development, and helps to integrate newer communities. The main programme consists of a yearly NEON Observing school, giving hands-on observing experience to young astronomers at a professional telescope. Additionally, OPTICON organises other schools concentrating on different aspects of observational astronomy, life-long learning, and integrating communities. These schools can have different scopes, for example 'Hot Topics', astronomical instrumentation, or combining data from different wavelength domains. Here, I will outline the OPTICON WP12 activities for the duration of the current OPTICON grant, running the years 2017-2020.

The COSPAR Capacity Building Programme – Today and Tomorrow

Gabriel, Carlos

The COSPAR Capacity Building Programme (CBP) started in 2001 with the organisation of highly practical workshops in developing countries with the aim of encouraging (young) scientists from those regions to use scientific data from space missions. In 2009 a Fellowship associated to the workshops has been added as a fundamental component of the CBP. The Programme today is covering a large number of disciplines related to space sciences, with a cadence of 3 workshops per year. The three workshops taking place this year are in the fields of infrared and sub-mm astronomy, solar physics and space weather, showing how wide is the scope of the CBP. A key in the success of the CBP is the strong engagement in it of internationally high ranked scientists as well as of the space agencies ESA, NASA and JAXA.A reorganisation of the Panel takes place in 2018 during the COSPAR GA in April, surely an opportunity to improve the activities, especially in the way of evaluating the impact the Programme is having in development countries. Ideas and on-going initiatives hereabout will be exposed and discussed.

Pulsar Search Collaboratory

Blumer, Harsha

Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is a collaborative research program between Green Bank Observatory (GBO) and West Virginia University (WVU). Through the PSC, we are building a nationwide community engaging high-school students, their teachers, and undergraduate mentors to search for pulsars (rapidly rotating neutron stars) using data collected with the 100-m Green Bank Telescope (GBT).  In the process, the students learn about observational radio astronomy, radio frequency interference, pulsar timing, and data analysis procedures. The primary goals of the PSC are to stimulate student interest in Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) careers, to prepare teachers in implementing authentic research with students by training them within a professional scientific community, and to promote student use of information technologies through online activities and workshops. The pulsars discovered by the PSC students will be used for fundamental advances such as for testing of general relativity, constraining neutron star masses, or detecting gravitational waves. Here, we present the strategy and challenges of implementing the program and the scientific and educational research results thus far.

Stray Light Analysis of the Entoto Observatory Telescopes in Ethiopia

KIM, Young-Soo

Two 1 m telescopes were founded on the Entoto mountain of about 3200 m altitude. Entoto Observatory and Research Center in Ethiopian Space Science & Technology Institute is operating the telescopes, and found unusual patterns on the flat images. Those lead us to analyze stray light and to examine functions and performances of the system. In this paper, progress of the telescopes are introduced, and analysis result are described.

Status of Astronomy in Namibia

Cotter, Garret

Southern Africa is becoming a beacon for astronomy throughout the electromagnetic spectrum: In all wavebands accessible from ground, the largest astronomical facilities are either operational or in the process of being set up in the region, see e.g. [1].The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in Sutherland (South Africa), measuring 11m in diameter, is the largest single optical telescope in the Southern hemisphere [2]. The deployment of the telescopes of the MeerKAT radio telescope, being the largest and most powerful radio telescope in the Southern hemisphere, has just completed [3]. The 64-dish MeerKAT telescopes will later develop into the Square Kilometre Array(SKA), the most sensitive radio telescope on Earth, utilizing outlier station all over Southern Africa [4]. The High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) telescopes [5] in the Khomas highlands in Namibia are the largest and most powerful system of Cherenkov telescopes to study very high energy (E>100 GeV) gamma-rays. For its successor, the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) [6,7], Namibia has been voted second of possible countries to host the Southern part [8,9].Against this background, the current situation of astronomical research and education in Namibia will be reviewed, specifically focusing on recent developments regarding growing collaborations with UK institutions.References[1] M. Böttcher, “The violent universe”, [2][3] [4][5][6] B.S. Acharya et al., “Introducing the CTA concept”, Astroparticle Physics, Vol. 43, p. 3-18 (2013)[7][8] M. Backes, “Current Status of the Namibian bid to host the Cherenkov Telescope Array”, Proceedings of Science, PoS(HEASA2015)001 (2015)[9]

Innovators Developing Accessible Toools for Astronomy (IDATA)

Spuck, Timothy

Perhaps you have seen those spectacular images from the Hubble Space Telescope: pillars of greenish gas and dust giving birth to new stars and planets, incredibly detailed spiral arms in galaxies millions of light-years away, but you can’t look through a telescope and see these amazing wonders of nature. Light from these distant objects is converted into numerical data and computers use that data to generate the images we see. In reality, in many ways, we are all blind to this data. We simply choose to convert these numbers into images, but there are other ways, beyond our eyes, to analyze this data. IDATA, a United States National Science Foundation-supported project explores computational thinking and learning in astronomy and the impact of engaging students in authentic software design/development, invents blind and visually impaired (BVI) accessible image/data analysis software, and develops curricular resources to support computation in astronomy explorations and software use. Come learning about the project and how you can access these resources when they are made available.

AstroCamping Project In Djerba: First step to develop Astronomy in Tunisia

El Yazidi, Mayssa

Tunisia is a country located in the North of Africa, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and also on the edge of the Sahara Desert, It is the seat of several national museums which exhibits archaeological pieces ranging from Roman mosaics to Islamic art and that's give it a very special cultural value.Unfortunately, in Tunisia there are no professional astronomical observatories, or dedicated professional instruments for this field of science. However, there are several telescopes used in the context of cultural and associative activities and for general public events.A project that can link the uncontaminated beauties of our Country with the natural passion for astronomy is the Astro Camping in Djerba . The island of Djerba is a renown touristic attraction, far from noise and light pollution, an ideal place to look for new adventures and new experiences. The Astro Camping in Djerba, is indeed a proposed project based on two different displines: Astronomy and Tourism. This project is structured over four to five days during which several scientific activities are offered together with parties and musical events. During the day tourists can visit the island of Djerba with boats, visit museums, exhibitions, monuments, and health resorts. At night  there will be astronomical observations with telescopes placed near the beach, looking at the stars, the MilkyWay and enjoying the very good quality of the sky : an excellent opportunity for Astrophotography. In this way tourists can enjoy the two beauties of Djerba: the charm of the blue sea, the fresh air and also the observation of the universe, galaxies and the deep starry sky...The evenings will be animated by quizzes, games and theater sessions for the children.This Astro camping project has already been tested by a small group of students in August 2018, and it was a very successful experience.

Looking at the stars as an instrument for peace and reconciliation

Vargas Dominguez, Santiago

After more than 50 years living under an internal conflict, Colombia has left war behind with the disarmament and demobilization of FARC ex-combatants, and is currently facing their reintegration to the civil society.The Universidad Nacional de Colombia, the largest university in the country, has   been and important actor, leading from the academia the peace process. Since 2016 a group of professors and students started a project called “Knowledge spaces for peace”, going to several regions historically affected by the conflict to create spaces for dialogue between former communities in discord.This work shows the experience at the Jaime Pardo Leal Transitional Standardization Zone (currently called Territorial Training and Reincorporation Spaces) located in Colinas, Guaviare, one of the concentration camps of ex-combatants of the FARC.One of the objectives sought is to promote the interest of these communities for the environment that surrounds them and to strengthen their links with knowledge, particularly with disciplines such as mathematics, physics and biology, through astronomy. We highlight the importance of a society based on knowledge to procure a long-term reincorporation of ex-combatants fostering a complete peace reestablishment.

Educational Programmes at the LT and NRT robotic telescopes

Gutiérrez, C. M.

The Liverpool telescope (LT) sited in La Palma is the largest robotic telescope in the world. Part of the observing time is dedicated to educational programmes. These are NSO (National Schools’ Observatory) run by he Liverpool John Moores University (UK) and PETER (Proyecto Educativo con Telescopios Robóticos) run by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Spain). Both programmes have been in operation for over ten years and have had an outstanding impacto n teaching and lerning astronomy within schools. The programmes have allowed the access to a world leading scientific facility of numerous education centers and thousand of students in UK, Ireland and Spain. Here, we present some sketckes about both programmes, and how have been able to attract the curiosity of children and young people. We, also outline the outreach and educational plans for the 4 m New Robotic Telescope (NRT) that is under design and will be in operation in 5 years time.


Jiwaji, Noorali

Progress has been made in traditional astronomy outreach efforts through articles and news in electronic and print media using both English as well as local Kiswahili languages. Astronomy and science resentations were given by local and visiting scientists often followed up with star gazing activities in schools and communities. School students took part in the Dark Skies for Africa Schools project as well as in the international Quality ighting project. University student project was conducted to measure light intensity during penumbral eclipses with a novel method using the Unihedron Sky Quality meter. Masters level research is done in collaboration with experts from Ethiopia under IAU East African Regional Office for Astronomy Development initiatives. Astrotourism is promoted by including it as part of nature and wildlife tourism in Tanzania. A frontier science proposal to install the Event Horizon elescope on Kilimanjaro accessible using a cableway will impact leisure tourism in Tanzania. The Annular Solar Eclipse of September 1, 2016 highlighted the potential of astrotourism, drawing attention to the 16 tonne Mbozi meteorite. Concerted attention has been paid towards using both English as well as the local Kiswahili language for Astronomy communication to inform public as well as young children in Primary Schools and students in Secondary Schools, olleges and Universities. Translation of basic Astronomy terms has been undertaken so as to produce Kiswahili articles in Wikipedia and dictionaries under local and international publishers. All astronomy development efforts have been onsolidated under a recently registered Astronomy and Space Science Association of Tanzania (ASSAT).

XXX IAU General Assembly | ACV - Austria Center Vienna  | Bruno-Kreisky-Platz 1  | 1220 Vienna