Dr Haley Gomez, Cardiff Astrophysicist and Dr Edward Gomez from LCOGT are recipients of an award from the National Science Academy which is a Welsh Government Scheme designed to support STEM education in Wales.
In recent years the numbers of students, notably women, taking up physical science subjects has been in decline. Outreach activities to engage young people are viewed by the Welsh Government as being vital to reversing this downward trend. STEM subjects, along with other numerical disciplines, are highly valued across a range of occupations, offering students varied career opportunities.
The Universe in your Classroom is a project led by Dr Gomez & Gomez that aims to engage with 100 teachers and reach over 1400 Welsh primary school students.
The initiative will employ a team of role models – ranging from astronomy undergraduates to professional astronomers – who will visit classrooms all across Wales (reaching 60,000 pupils over a decade). Role models will bring the wonders of the Universe into the classroom, by combining innovative teaching tools and technology including robotic telescopes, enquiry-based learning and Universe-in-a-box kits from the highly successful European-funded project unawe.
Dr Haley Gomez explained: “We now know that the way young children think is very similar to the way a scientist thinks, primary children like to test why things happen in an informal way and learn from watching and listening, linking different things together. So it’s a perfect age to introduce these young scientists to the amazing universe and inspire them using creative activities based on the Moon, stars and other distant objects in the sky.”
“Our diverse group of science role models will help demonstrate to young children that science is for everyone. We hope to help Welsh children (and their teachers) become more interested and more confident in science and technology, using the awe-inspiring medium of astronomy.