Space science gives European teachers a boost

New classroom activities
20 July 2012

ESA’s third summer workshop for teachers took a four-day journey into space to boost science, technology, engineering and maths education in classrooms across Europe.

Nearly 40 school teachers took part in an intensive hands-on workshop at ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands, beginning 10 July. The teachers were taken on a voyage into our cosmos, learning from ESA experts how space can enliven STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education for all students and foster future generations of explorers.

In a learn-by-doing approach, educators found themselves tracking clouds in the Venusian atmosphere, testing how plant life withstands the rigours of space travel and building simple signal tracers as an introduction to the invisible world of radio waves.

A slate of experts from space science, human spaceflight and Earth observation presented the latest exploration and technology topics. Hands-on activities included retrieving eye-catching solar images from the SOHO heliospheric observatory data archive and simulating the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun.

Space is extremely inspiring for young people

Participants also met ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang, who spoke about his experiences in orbit. “I am convinced that what we do in space is extremely inspiring for young people,” he noted.

“The International Space Station is today a unique and irreplaceable platform not only for orbital sciences but also for Earth observation and even high-energy physics. It’s critical that students know they have a future working in a growing range of space research and application development.”

Practical session

In the third annual workshop, inspiration and enthusiasm ran high.

“We are not only here to make science fun. We also use amazing space stories as a ‘hook’ to explain all sorts of phenomena in our Universe,” explained Anu Ojha, Director of the National Space Academy (UK National Space Centre), and a presenter at the workshop.
The topics presented and associated materials were suitable for classes ranging from upper primary up to first-year university.
The educators, who came from 12 ESA Member States, also learned where to find and how to apply ESA online resources in their daily teaching. The workshop gave them the ability to cover sophisticated fundamental principles using very simple equipment and widely accessible resources.
Participants ended the workshop better equipped to provide their students with enriched science learning experiences, and have all committed to disseminate the knowledge they acquired to other teachers.
Contact for further information
teachers@esa.int

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