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Time to wrap up...

How can we write “conclusion” to something related to Astronomy? This is impossibile, like every matter related to sciences subjects. At the really moment a scientific book is published, it is necessary to start its revision.

It is expecially difficult writing conclusion to the Using astronomy as an aid to teaching STEM Community of Practices, as many questions came out from participants; for each of them Niall Smith and Kevin Nolan, our experts, gave great suggestions, stimulating teachers to ask more…

Therefore, instead of calling it conclusion, we can call it starting point to introduce astronomy, space and space explorations in aiding the teaching of science and improving the interest of students in STEM subjects, even when astronomy is not formally recognized in the education process of many countries.  

To help teachers experiencing some of the resources suggested in this CoP, we collected the links mentioned in the various threads.

Something more: teachers and fans can bring a pocket summary on their IWB, computer or tablet, join the CoP9 pearl in Pearltrees app.

(Tullia & Jukka)



Some of the things that fascinate students are:

- the size and scale of the Cosmos in both space and time
- the search for the origin of life
- the origin of the Cosmos
- the beauty of the rings of Saturn
- extrasolar planets
- Hubble Space Telescope image revealing unknow parts of the Cosmos
- the propertise of Black Holes
- the unknowns: black matter and black energy
Kids are fascinated about the distances and the speed and about the fact that we see things how they were in past because of the speed of light.
Students always have many questions to ask, anyway it is always worth having a number of images ready to talk about, so you maintain a hold on the science. It is also a good approach doing practical activities.
If we are to use astronomy more in teaching STEM we must remember that some things that  teachers are worried because:
- there is too much material on the web
- most of the material is not connected to what they teach in school
- material produced in one country is not always useful in another
There are many things that we don’t yet understand about Universe, such as: how the Universe came into existence, the full 'extent' of the Universe, where the Moon came from, the origin of life…
Something difficult to understand for students is the fact that 96% of the universe is composed of dark energy and dark matter and WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THESE ARE.
It is important to teach students that science is not only about knowing facts, but while we do need to know some facts, science is fundamentally a way of thinking and solving problems. Teaching astronomy, with its many unknowns, captures the essence of what science is all about, trying to understand and discover new things
During this CoP teachers brought their experiences while teaching astronomy or running some related projects and they asked many valuable questions, such as how to measure the distance of galaxies, where do different atoms come from, is the expansion model of Universe an approximation of reality and so on…
There is not a better way to introducing astronomy and the study of the Universe with students. The most important thing to be successful is to have an appropriate starting point and a plan. Each teacher can decide his own starting point and choose a defined number of topics according to students preferences and class requests. One of the most important goal to achieve is give students the perception of Cosmos around us.
Every teacher can find something interesting that refers for subject that he teach.


- Kinetic City: excellent website with resources for teachers. Collection of science experiments, games, activities, challenges and more.

- The Scale of the Universe: interactive activity, useful to talk about the size of the Universe.

- Video about The Scale of Universe: a short journey from the Earth to the outmost visible part of the Universe.

- Video about ten power.

- A collection of 13 episodes from Cosmos by Carl Sagan related to the history of science, the evolution of the Universe and life.

- Pale Blue Dot video by Carl Sagan: good example of astronomy helping to teach other subjects.

- A video about the Big Bang by Joao Magueijo, portuguese physicist and cosmologist.

- A video about the beauty of science by Richard Feynman

- A video about star evolution by Walter Lewin (MIT teacher).

- Nasa page which explains something about theory of “dark Energy” and “dark matter”

- "Antimatter" an excellent blog written by Dr. Cormac O'Raifeartaigh in Waterford Institute of Technology – Ireland, in which is possible to find links to lectures, PPT course presentations and public talks he has delivered that explain Cosmology and The Big Bang, as well as particle physics and The Standard Model beautifully…

- Nasa page which speaks about the expansion of the Universe.

- Nasa Mars Exploration Program: a collection of videos and animations. It is possible to choose between many missions. Then go to “Multimedia” link related to the desired mission and select videos, images and other tools.

- “Mars 2020: Springtime”. fun animation created for a contest

- European Space Agency website

- ESA Science Programme: outreach resources about Planck Project

- ESA Education: space for educators

- Physics Teaching Fair – November 2000 – CERN Geneva

- Here you can find the online version of BBC astronomy magazine “Sky at Night”. On each copy of the magazine there are many astronomy media-rich materials and episodes of Patrick Moore's Sky At night series.

- The Odysseus contest challenges students between 14 and 18 years old age from all EU countries to develop a project on space exploration.

- Sunrise Project: repeated the Eratostenes experiments to calculate the circumference of the Earth using shadows

- Here you can find the work of some bulgarian students on Eratostenes experiments.



Uses of software and telescopes have a very important role on this efforts to meet the students expectations.
It's a pity that astronomy is not more formally recognised in the education process of many countries. It appears that individual teachers see value in astronomy in certain areas and then incorporate them into teaching, assignments and projects, but on a individually decided basis rather than a curriculum or school coordinated basis.
As many teachers observed, astronomy can offer interesting models and activities. For example, building a scale model of the Solar system can be used for a range of Maths contents, from Geometry to proportions, measure units, etc. It is also a good opportunity to involve students using more types of intelligence, such as the kinesthetic one.
Astronomy is one of those truly inspirational subjects that can be understood by everyone to some degree. So using astronomy, even indirectly, to teach the curriculum, and more importantly just to "inspire" is potentially hugely powerful.
There are many tools, resources and apps that can be helpful to bring the Universe inside the classroom.
Some teachers complaint there are time and resource restrictions with engaging technology such as telescopes.
In mainstream subjects such as physics, mathematics, computing and engineering, look to astronomical and space exploration technology for examples and inspiration.
There are some suggestions to involve students in the study of astronomy, like:
- schedule one or two evenings - per year - where students and their parents come along for an observing session
- offer investigations into technologies such as robotic telescopes, robotic rovers, rockets, space imaging and so as essays, assignments and school projects
- connect with one of the many on-line accessible robotic telescopes and have your students actually control the telescope and take images in class (using a telescope in a part of the world where it is night time)
- there are many on-line data analysis projects such as SETI@home and Galaxy Zoo that allow any individual to partake in actual astronomy. Such projects engage computing and data analysis in particular and give the participant real insight on how science and astronomy is done in this computer and network age
- for schools with expertise in mechanical engineering, you might even consider projects to build a telescope and its mount from scratch. There are myriads of plans that can be acquired to do this.
Astronomy and Space Science offer many, many topics for discussion, debate and investigation that are relevant to current and near-term future society and which young people will surely want to have a say in.
Astronomy connects with many other aspects of society and can make for great assignments, projects and especially debates and class discussions across history, politics, religion, agriculture, cost of space exploration…

- Observe the International Space Station: useful page which will help you to find out when the ISS will be visible from each location

- The CIT Blackrock Castle Virtual Observatory app for iPhone/iPad, with a real-time view of the sky from any location in Ireland.

- Pocket Universe: Virtual Sky Astronomy app for iPhone/iPad which extend the use of Blackrock Castele Virtual Observatory from any location in the world. Easy-to-use astronomy application, which focuses on helping you answer the question "What's that in the sky?"

- Google Sky Map app (only for Android)

- A great website for keeping track of satellites.

- Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for the computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D.

- SalsaJ is a free open source student-friendly software which allows students to display, analyse, and explore real astronomical images and other data in the same way that professional astronomers do.

- Sun for All Project website, with many practical activities to use with students.

- ISS (International Space Station) EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) is an educational outreach program allowing middle school students to capture images of our Earth from a digital camera on board the International Space Station.

- Gravity and Orbits: interactive simulation

- Planet Impact game: to learn about gravity, orbits and more.

- Solar System game (in bulgarian language)



When we speak about extrasolar planets, we discuss with students about possibilities of to find habitants at these planets, even if there is no evidence yet for life beyond earth.
In terms of parallel worlds, again no evidence, but some scientific theories allow for these to exist.
The new sciences of astrobiology and astrochemistry etc., are really just ways to look at the rules of the universe that we know work here on earth and imagining what would be the consequences of those rules being applied on other worlds that don't have the same characteristcs as our earth.

 - Galaxy Zoo is part of Zoouniverse Project: students are asked to classify galaxies according with their shake

- Kepler - A search for Habitable Planets: interactive resources to hunt exoplanet transit, discover planets, simulate researches for life

- SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.

- Planethunters is an interactive resource in which students hunt for planets

- Astronomy Research Projects – University of Haway

- Faulkes Telescope Project: provide access to a global network of robotic telescopes. Useful to be used at school for remote observation.

- Catalogue of extrasolar planets.

- Astrobiology Magazine: the origin and the evolution of the life in the Universe.

- The Astrobiology website

- Astrobiology NASA website: life in the Universe.

- Science news for Kids: life beyond the Earth



Mars exploration is one of the few major priority areas of science and exploration over the coming decades. Mars exploration is global, long term, attempting to answer fundamental questions about our origins and involved staggering science, engineering, organisation and exploration. So, Mars exploration encompasses a huge amount that is relevant to STEM, education in general and indeed minds young and old.
Science @ Mars: Investigating whether Mars was originally favourable to life related activity involves:
- Planetology - understanding the structure of the planet as a whole, and in particular when comparing it to Earth
- Climatology - what was the past climate of Mars like
- Geology - what tectonic and volcanic activity occurred on Mars and still occur there today, and how do they compare to Earth.
- Mineralogy - what are the surface materials of Mars made of
- Chemistry - what chemistry occurred on Mars in the past and did organic chemistry occur.
Engineering @ Mars:
- Rockets needed to send robots and humans to Mars
- Mars orbiters: how the communicate with Earth, what instruments they have on board
- Mars Rovers - how to land a rover on Mars, how to drive a rover across the surface of Mars, how Rovers talk back to Earth, computing systems on board rovers (including neural networks), drilling through rock on Mars, analyzing the soil...

- European Space Agency website

- European Space Agency resources for teachers

- Mars Express Mission on ESA website: resources, images, videos and animations.

- Mars Science Laboratory by NASA - Curiosity rover: missions, pictures, videos, resources

- Interactive Mars habitat.

- Fantastic pictures of Mars at the Hubble site

- Streaming of Curiosity rover webcam from Mars surface.

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