The EU Space Awareness Project [EUSPACE-AWE] – funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme – uses the excitement of space to attract young people to science and technology and to stimulate European and global citizenship. The main goal of the project is to increase the number of young people that choose space-related careers.
EUSPACE-AWE is structured in four different topics:
- Our Wonderful Universe, which relates to the knowledge and challenges of human space exploration;
- Our Fragile Planet, which deals with major environmental challenges facing our planet and explores the role that the study of other planets can play in understanding these issues and the importance of Earth satellites in monitoring climate changes;
- Navigation Through the Ages, which traces the history of navigation from the fifteenth-century European explorers and their missions of global discovery to Europe’s Galileo programme, meeting the current needs of citizens;
- Islamic Heritage, which highlights the important contributions from Islamic scientists during the Middle Ages to our modern concepts of space and the universe.
Around these topics, the project offers a coherent suite of activities targeting children and teenagers, spanning the period from their forming of a vision of science to their choosing a career. The project engages children and teenagers directly and indirectly through educators, teachers and families. Particular attention is paid to stimulating interest amongst girls and minorities and reaching children in underprivileged communities. A special toolkit showcasing the history and accomplishments of Islamic science and technology will tell the story of a shared history based on tolerance and respect for other cultures.
The activities include the compilation, development and distribution of high-quality educational resources. Among these resources are Space Scoops, career stories, citizen science projects and a repository of educational activities. Activities also include educator support through workshops and Massive On-line Open Courses (MOOCs), as well as high-impact events for teachers and for policy-makers at the European Parliament. An evaluation strategy is implemented throughout the project. Results aim at a better understanding of the career aspirations of space-related workers, the vision that children have of space and space science, and the identification of best practices towards stimulating the next generations of space scientists.
Running from March 2015 until February 2018, the project has already achieved important milestones. Examples are i) the launch of a survey to identify the entry points for space in the curricula of 10 countries in Europe and South Africa that became the basis of the identification, selection and creation of over 30 educational resources, (ii) the organisation, together with ESA and the Galileo Teacher Training Program [GTTP], of an international workshop attended by around 100 teachers from all over Europe (iii) the successful organisation of the first Space Awareness MOOC with over 1,400 participants from all over Europe.
The project – coordinated by Leiden University – relies on a strong partnership between 10 organizations, ESA and space education networks like the GTTP, Scientix and Universe Awareness
For more information on the project’s activities and updates visit the EUSPACE-AWE website.