The first Universe in the Classroom 2.0 primary school teacher-training event took place last week in Wrexham, during which participant teachers were provided with access to a global network of powerful robotic telescopes, and the resources and know-how to use them to explore the night sky from their classrooms.
During the first phase of Universe in the Classroom (January 2014–March 2015) 100 welsh primary schools were selected to receive a set of free astronomy education resources, including Universe-in-a-Box education toolkits and Earth balls. From these select schools, over 800 schoolchildren were reached directly through workshops and 131 teachers were trained during Science CPD. The first round of CPD workshops covered curriculum topics in the local solar neighbourhood, such as seasons, lunar phases and the planets. All these topics are covered in the Universe-in-a-Box hands-on activity box.
In March 2015, phase two of the project began: Universe in the Classroom 2.0. For the next three years, we will be providing complementary digital resources to welsh primary schools to be used alongside the hands-on materials. The most impressive new resource is access to the LCOGT network — 14 powerful telescopes across the globe. We will be hosting several more CPD events to provide schools with the know-how and confidence to use these telescopes in their classroom, to inspire young children and spark a passion for science and learning in primary school students. Universe in the Classroom will also be inviting new schools to participate in the project, in addition to continuing our partnership with the 100 schools selected last year.
To maximise the reach of Universe in the Classroom and ensure that schools outside of the populous South Wales region were offered the opportunity to participate and benefit from the project, primary schools from each of the 22 Welsh counties were invited to participate in training events and school workshops. A third of schools participating in the first phase of Universe in the Classroom lie outside the populous South Wales area, including around 20 enthusiastic schools in North Wales. Therefore, we decided to host the first Universe in the Classroom 2.0 teacher CPD of Techniquest in Wrexham last week.
On 10th December we welcomed teachers from eight schools across the North of the country — from Anglesey, Conwy and Wrexham – including a mix of partner schools and new schools. The training focussed on showing teachers how to use the professional-quality LCOGT robotic telescopes to take breath-taking and inspiring images of the night sky, giving them confidence to control the telescopes and providing ideas on how to link them with core topics. To help teachers integrate the telescopes into their lessons, each school was given an activity book containing 15 activity guides (plus student worksheets, diagrams and how-to guides) covering topics relevant to using the robotic telescope network, such as Time Zones, the Scale of the Solar System and Light Pollution. During our visit to North Wales, we also hosted astronomy workshops in two schools for over 50 students.
If you would like to explore or print any of the activities used as part of Universe in the Classroom, visit our Resources page: http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/physicsoutreach/universe-in-the-classroom/universe-in-the-classroom-resources/