CosmoLAB: The Solar System as a laboratory in the classroom

Description

"CosmoLAB" is a project run by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) with funding from the Cabido de Tenerife, and in collaboration with the Consejería de Educación y Universidades and the Museo de la Ciencia y el Cosmos, that was launched in 2018. The main goal of the project is to bring Astronomy and, in particular, the practice of astronomical observations, closer to the educational community of the island. We intent that students and teachers, from schools all over the island, consider the Teide observatory, the high-quality Canarian skies and the science produced at the IAC, as part of their own cultural heritage. 

The project owns four 20 cm night-sky telescopes, two 10 cm solar telescopes as well as four Sunspotters. These equipments are lent to primary and secondary schools with the purpose of organizing Astronomy outreach activities in a continuous and autonomous way. Prior to the loan, the interested teachers need to complete a 10-hour course in which they learn how to mount and use the afore-mention telescopes and are presented with educational resources based on Inquiry Learning approaches, in order to complement the observations. Teachers from varied disciplines (history, biology, physics, art…) as well as educational levels (from kindergarten to high-school) are encouraged to participate in the course.

In addition, longer thematic courses are being organized about important topics of Astrophysics -- such as the Solar System, Star Formation and Evolution, Exoplanets or Galaxies – given by experts from the IAC, with the aim to put the teachers in direct contact with researchers and provide access to the latest scientific results. Educational tools and resources to address these topics in the classroom are also offered to the teachers.

Furthermore, astronomical gatherings are also being promoted to bring together students, teachers and families to enjoy the precious skies of the island. More than 120 teachers have already being trained and many have organized activities in their schools, reaching about 2500 students from all educational levels. Concurrently with the project, questionaries are being applied to evaluate the project from the teacher’s perspective in order to assess their expectations and needs and determine if these are being met by the proposed actions. On the long term, we want to create a strong CosmoLAB community and contribute to improve Astronomy education in the region. 

For more information, please contact the responsable of the project:

Dr. Sandra Benitez Herrera

cosmolab [at] iac.es

+ 34 922605206

Principal investigator
Project manager
Collaborators

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