“Touching the Planets, Evaluating Excellence” – Report on Europlanet Outreach Workshop
July 31, 2018

“Touching the Planets, Evaluating Excellence” – Report on Europlanet Outreach Workshop, Athens, 2-3 July 2018

Measuring the impact of outreach activities can help you improve the effectiveness of your activities and help convince your supervisors or funders that your time and resources have been well spent. However, collecting this information can be a challenge!

From 2-3 July, 18 amateur astronomers, teachers, early career researchers and outreach providers gathered in Athens for a workshop, “Touching the Planets, Evaluating Excellence”, to share their experiences of running outreach activities and their hone their evaluation skills. Europlanet has been developing a set of easy-to-use evaluation tools to support outreach providers and educators in measuring and appraising the impact of their activities.  The Europlanet Evaluation toolkit is intended to provide advice and resources that can be simply and easily integrated into normal outreach and education activities. The kit includes 14 tools, as well as a number of variations, that are suitable for a variety of audiences and activity formats. The Athens workshop included an introduction to the toolkit by one of its creators, Dr Jen DeWitt from UCL, plus an opportunity for participations to try out four of the tools during interactive sessions. Feedback from the participants will be incorporated into the final version, which will be launched at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2018 in September.

The workshop was part of a series of conference sessions and stand-alone workshops provided through the Europlanet 2020 RI project for outreach providers and science communicators working both professionally and voluntarily to engage the public with planetary science.  The workshops aim to build networks, share resources and best practice, brainstorm in order to develop new ideas for effective communication, and to keep in touch with the latest scientific achievements through contact with the broader scientific community.

“Touching the Planets, Evaluating Excellence” took place in the beautiful surroundings of the Kostis Palamatis Building at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. At the end of the first day, the workshop participants were treated to an evening at the National Observatory of Athens’s Thissio visitor centre on the Hill of the Nymphs, overlooking the Acropolis. Following a tour of the library and museum, which includes historical instruments and a model of the Antikythera Mechanism, the dome of the Doridis telescope was opened up and the group had the opportunity to observe Jupiter and Saturn through the 40cm telescope.

A gallery of the event can be found here: http://www.europlanet-eu.org/resources/image/europlanet-outreach-workshop-athens-2018/

Many thanks to Jen DeWitt for leading the sessions, to the Local Organising Committee, Nantia Moutsouroufi, Dr Eleni Chatzichristou and Prof Ioannis Daglis for organising the workshop, to Stratos Koufos for taking pictures of the event, and to Panagiotis Evangelopoulos for the tour of the National Observatory of Athens.