EWASS 2013 - Turku, Finland, 8-12 July 2013

Astronomy education and public outreach


Irina Vavilova (MAO NAS of Ukraine)
Astronomy education and amateur astronomy in Ukraine

A current status and analysis of the astronomy school-. high-, and post-graduated education (1991-2013) in Ukraine will be presented in detail.

Areg Mickaelian (Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO), Armenia)
Astronomy education and public outreach in Armenia

Armenia is a small country with rather high level of professional astronomy, as well as astronomy education and public outreach are being promoted by professionals and amateurs. Astronomy education includes school astronomy, local and international astronomical Olympiads, Galileo Teachers Training Program (GTTP), university level astronomy (B.Sc. and M.Sc.), Ph.D. studies, local and international summer schools organized in the Byurakan Observatory, participation of the Armenian students in the international summer schools, etc. The present young generation gradually finds more and more attraction in astronomy and space sciences. In addition, the knowledge of computers and Internet is their typical difference from the previous students and it is important to keep the astronomy education up-to-date and introduce interactive, online and virtual methods in teaching. DVDs “Astronomy for schools” and “Astronomy for students” prepared for the schools and university students, respectively, serve as a good basis for both classic and modern knowledge. The Armenian Astronomical Society (ArAS) gives a strong importance to the education and public outreach, such as by placing educational and public material on its webpage, organizing ArAS school lectures by professional astronomers, producing and publishing educational and promotional materials, developing scientific journalism (distributing press-releases, organizing seminars, etc.).

Arto Oksanen (Jyväskylän Sirius ry, Finland)
Amateur astronomy by Jyväskylän Sirius

Activities of astronomical association Jyväskylän Sirius will be presented with focusing to the scientific observations made at their two countryside observatories.

Aki Taavitsainen (Mikkelin Ursa ry, Finland)
Fireballs and dance of the sprites at the border of space

Amateur astronomers in Mikkeli are specialized in photographing fireballs and high-altitude lightning called sprites.
Active amateur astronomers Aki Taavitsainen and Jani Lauanne are members of the fireball workgroup of Ursa Astronomical Association. The mission of the workgroup is to photograph fireballs, investigate possible meteorite droppers and also locate and find the meteorites.
The sprites are a relatively new discovery. Photographing them in Finland is extremely difficult and challenging. This rare phenomenon intrigues both pros and the amateurs. The Finnish Meteorological Institute collects information about sprites in cooperation with members of associations.
Chairman of Mikkelin Ursa, Aki Taavitsainen, tells how they have succeeded in all this.

Tuomo Salmi (Taurus Hill Observatory (Warkauden Kassiopeia ry), Finland)
Amateur astronomy by Taurus Hill Observatory

Astronomical association Warkauden Kassiopeia and their scientific observations (e.g. exoplanet light curve measurements and supernova discoveries) at Taurus Hill Observatory will be presented.

Roger Ferlet (Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, France)
EU-HOU project - Connecting classrooms to the Milky Way

The European Hands-On Universe (EU-HOU) project has implemented the first network of radio telescopes dedicated to education. Six small antennas in five different countries open the radio wavelength domain to classrooms and offer the possibility to map the neutral hydrogen in our Galaxy, the Milky Way. A complete educational scenario has been produced, enabling students to discover by themselves the existence of dark matter in the Universe.

Mikko Korhonen (NOT Science School, Finland)
NOT Science School

Nordic Optical Telescope - Science School is project which started 2007 by two high schools from Mikkeli, Finland. Science School expanded from Mikkeli to national project with support of National Board of Education and The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries.
Talented students from high school are selected to take part to NOT -Science School. Students are prepared to work with their own project in Nordic Optical Telescope, La Palma, where they have been access to a small amount of observing time. During the week in La Palma students get a hands-on experience in practical astronomy and they familiarise themselves with photometry, spectroscopy and polarimetry.

Martin George (International Planetarium Society, Australia)
The Role of Planetariums in Astronomy Education

It is now 90 years since the appearance of the first projection planetarium. Today, planetariums can be found in about half of the world's countries, with well over 3,000 planetariums worldwide known to the International Planetarium Society. I shall give a brief outline of the planetarium industry and its increasingly important role in astronomy education.

Magda Stavinschi (Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy, Romania)
Transdisciplinarity and Astronomy education

It is estimated that nowadays there are over 8000 scientific disciplines. It is clearly impossible for one person to study all of them. One huge problem is selecting which ones to include in the school curriculum. This is one of the reasons why the transdisciplinary methodology has gained great momentum in recent years. As the prefix "trans" indicates, transdisciplinarity concerns that which is at once between the disciplines, across the different disciplines, and beyond each individual discipline. Its goal is the understanding of the present world, of which one of the imperatives is the overarching unity of knowledge. By definition, astronomy may cover a number of subjects, from mathematics to physics, from chemistry to biology, and so on. What is important, is how we prepare students to expand their knowledge of life and of our planet, through astronomy. This paper intends to provide an overview of this new methodology and to explain in what ways it can help to find the best solutions in astronomical education.

Joni Tammi (Aalto University Metsähovi Radio Observatory, Finland)
Practical astronomy for accountants, photographers and satellite engineers - experiences with a highly-multidisciplinary astronomy course in the Aalto University

Aalto University was formed in 2010 from the merger of Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics, and the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, leading to the body of 20 000 students in very different fields. In the spring 2013 we gave a new astronomy course in a series of so-called "Aalto courses", intended for "everyone in the Aalto University." The teaching and evaluation methods, as well as the content, were strongly limited by the target audience, which included students with diverse backgrounds ranging from space technology and radio astronomy to computer science and engineering, to marketing and photography. We set two-fold goals for the learning: firstly, we wanted the students to form a concept of the up-to-date scientific knowledge of the Universe, and, secondly, we wanted the students to obtain the information background as well as the "vocabulary" for being able to consider various astronomical aspects in their own work, regardless of their field of study.
In this talk we will address some of the challenges we met in providing meaningful content and learning assessment methods for such a diverse audience. We will describe our approaches for arranging the teaching and assessment, and discuss the outcomes. We will also discuss the planned improvements for the next execution of the course that can be applied to other similar university-level courses intended for highly heterogeneous audience.

Tomas Franc (Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic)
Animations for Better Understanding of Tides

A lot of research studies have shown that tides are difficult to understand not only for students, but also for some teachers. We have created several animations in Wolfram Mathematica for better understanding of tides, for example the animation explaining the period of tides, the animation demonstrating tidal forces of the Moon, the Sun and of the resulting tidal forces of these bodies, or the animation showing why we can see only one side of the Moon. During our presentation we will show these animations and we will discuss the difficulties with explaining tides. We are going to mention some other tidal effects like slowing down of the Earth’s rotation.

Elina Lindfors (Tuorla Observatory, Finland)
Current and Future Gamma-ray experiments and Astronomy Education

We are living a golden era of gamma-ray astronomy. The Fermi gamma-ray satellite has been scanning the gamma-ray sky in full sky mode since August 2008 and the improved sensitivity of Imaging Air Cherenkov Telescopes has enabled unexpected discoveries in the highest energy regime in past 10 years. I will describe the current instruments with the emphasis on the outreach and education material from these experiments.

Rosa Doran (NUCLIO, Portugal)
Bringing the Future to the Hands of Students

The future will be a successful journey to human beings if we start preparing it properly today. The new generation needs different skills in order to be properly prepared to embrace the challenges they will be facing in the very near future. Our generation is leaving a very strong legacy of responsabilities and possibilities. Training teachers to inspire students for scientific thinking, enabling them to use cutting edge resources for science education is mandatory to ensure this mission is properly achieved. In this presentation some innovative programs will be presented.


Rudolf Galis (Faculty of Science, P. J. Safarik University in Kosice, Slovakia)
On the road with telescope

The main goal of the project „On the road with telescope“ is to increase young people's interest in science and exploration. To reach this goal we chose what we considered to be a highly attractive form. As our experience has shown, we are able to catch the interest of most young people involved through an interesting presentation containing the latest facts about space but especially through a direct experience with observing the night sky objects through telescopes. There has been a continuous interest in our activities, which is supported by the fact that during three years we managed to organize 164 events popularising science attended by 8346 participants. We are organising these events directly at schools in cities and villages in East Slovakia to create equal opportunities for all young people, also for these from geographically and socially disadvantaged environment. Our activities have received positive reviews not only from teachers but also from parents, who consider our activities to be an excellent opportunity for their children to spend their free time in an interesting and educational way. We also organized three correspondence competitions for young people and three conferences for physics and science teachers, where the participants could attend a series of lectures on the recent discoveries in astronomy research. Apart from that, we organized 38 other activities for all people from the general public, who are interested in the latest news from astronomy.

Ladislav Hric (Astronomical Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia)
Excursion to the Universe in frame of Slovak Astronomical Society

Slovak Astronomical Society of the Slovak Academy of Sciences is an association of friends of astronomy and related sciences, professionals, educators and students. It was established as a scientific society in 1959. Its aim is to organize workshops, scientific conferences (e.g. International Conference about successes of stellar astronomy with more than 50 years of tradition), summer camps for young people aimed at observing astronomical phenomena in the sky, the popularization of scientific knowledge and issuing publications and guidance materials. Members of the society are organized in seven regional offices and according their interests may take place in six specialized sections (e.g. section of protection against light pollution). Slovak Astronomical Society also regularly organizes the expedition for observing interesting astronomical phenomena(solar eclipses - Turkey 2006, China 2009, Australia 2012, Venus transit - Norway 2012). Slovak Astronomical Society is the organizer of the Astronomy Olympiads for students in Slovakia and their winners regularly achieve top rankings on the International Astronomy Olympiads.