Inspirational lectures by space experts in schools across Europe

Lecture at Norwegian Space Centre
6 March 2013

ESA’s ESERO offices across Europe support lectures in schools by space experts. Talking about the space projects in which they are involved can act as a source of inspiration and a valuable catalyst for student ambition.

Enabling students to meet real space experts is a valuable contribution to supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching across Europe. The experts link curricular topics with real missions and projects that are making history in science and technology.

In addition to sending experts into schools, in mid-February the Nordic ESERO organised a school lecture for more than 100 students at the Andøya Rocket Range with Alexander Biebricher, a physicist at the Norwegian Centre NAROM. He estimates that more than 1000 students have visited the dramatically picturesque Andøya Rocket Range since the ESERO office opened there in 2009.

Here children can see rare meteorological phenomena such as fishbone clouds and sometimes aurorae. The educational value of these sightings is enormous as the children can have them explained. Also, of course, Andøya has real rockets to launch.

‘It is sometimes hard to know what inspires them the most: the location or the rockets,’ says Biebricher.

Professor Paul Roche, ESERO-UK’s space ambassador

Different systems work for different countries, so the various ESERO offices must find the best fit for their country. Building a rich network of experts was an initiative started a few years ago by ESERO UK.

“The space ambassadors network is all about providing classroom support. We want this network to grow and build over the next three years,’ says Allan Clements, the UK ESERO manager.

UK teachers can freely contact experts listed on a website (http://www.esero.org.uk/space-ambassadors) with any questions they may have. They can request help with space projects or invite an expert to give a talk directly to the children.

In Ireland, the ESERO works in collaboration with the organisation Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to provide speakers for schools. Any researcher granted funding by SFI is strongly encouraged to visit both primary and secondary schools to help teach the importance of science. Again speakers are listed on a website (http://www.sfi.ie/education-outreach/for-schools/speakers-for-schools-by-province/).

Andre Kuipers and crew

In the Netherlands, there is not so much demand for the ESERO to offer speakers directly to schools. Instead they concentrate on organising lectures as part of their teacher training conferences. “If a school does come to us with a specific request for a speaker, we have a number of astronomers we can put them in touch with,’ says Hans Tuinenburg, project manager of Space in the Classroom at Science Center NEMO, where the ESERO is based.

The Belgium ESERO also puts the majority of its efforts into its teacher-training programme.

Through their various lecture programmes the ESERO offices show that space and STEM careers are pathways that students can follow. The lectures aim to encourage students to study STEM subjects and provide them with contacts and information about the exciting career opportunities in the high growth space sector.

Space involves many different occupations and professions. It is an exciting career option in which many people can participate.

For further information, please contact: education @ esa.int

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