IAU astroEDU Selected as a Top-100 Education Initiative from Across the World
November 12, 2018

Europlanet educational partner recognized on 2019 HundrED  list

HundrED, a global education nonprofit organisation, researches inspiring innovations in education from around the world and annually selects the 100 most inspiring initiatives. Educational practices had to meet the criteria of being innovative, impactful and scalable to make it onto the list. For the 2019 list, HundrED has recognized IAU astroEDU among the top-100 innovations.

IAU astroEDU — a project from the International Astronomical Union — is an open-access platform that uses the familiar peer-review concept of scientific publications, to improve the standards of quality, visibility and accessibility of educational activities. This online platform is a place where educators can discover, review, change, and share astronomy- and space-related activities for primary and secondary education, and also have their activities peer-reviewed by professionals in education and science. Europlanet 2020 RI has developed three new collections of planetary-themed educational activities for astroEDU: Children’s Planetary Maps, The Planets and Their Moons, Asteroids, Comets and Meteors. Europlanet has also contributed updates to three further astroEDU collections: Explore our Moon, Our Star: the Sun and Exploring the Earth

Saku Tuominen, CEO of HundrED, said: “Spreading innovations such as astroEDU across borders can be a gamechanger for education worldwide. We will continue to encourage as many stakeholders as possible including schools, educators, administrators, students and organizations to get involved so that we can work towards a positive future.”

“It is not another web repository for educational resources but a mechanism for peer-reviewing and publishing high-quality astronomy education activities in an open-access way,” says Michael Fitzgerald (IAU astroEDU Editor-in-Chief; Edith Cowan University). The peer review involves input from both a content specialist (scientist) and a pedagogical expert (educator). This assures educators that the activities are both scientifically current and address the pedagogical and practical realities of the classroom. The activities are inquiry-based, covering open-ended inquiry, guided inquiry, structured inquiry, project-based learning, and fun learning, in line with skills needed in the 21st-century. “In this new era of education,” concludes Fitzgerald, “education is becoming more self-directed, and I look forward to developing versions that adapt to the students, not just to the teachers.”

Innovating across digital learning environments, IAU astroEDU also announces the release of new educational videos to explain the unknown Universe, spanning concepts of black holes, dark matter, and dark energy. The videos feature astronomers Thomas Russell (researcher at University of Amsterdam), Henk Hoekstra (professor at Leiden University) and Maria Cristina Fortuna (PhD candidate at Leiden University), and provide incisive explanations supporting primary and secondary school activities on the topic. Hoekstra adds, “IAU astroEDU is an excellent platform to bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and schools and we hope to see young minds engaged in solving the Universe’s most difficult mysteries.” The videos and activities are freely available on the IAU astroEDU platform.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world’s largest professional body for astronomers.

IAU astroEDU began in 2013 as an International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) project in collaboration with the Astronomy & Society Group at Leiden University and Las Cumbres Observatory. In the last 5 years, astroEDU was awarded the first Scientix Award for Best Resources in Science, Technology, Mathematics and Engineering and was nominated for Open Knowledge Foundation Award and also launched the first language version in Italian. This recognition also honours the astronomy education community, who contribute to IAU astroEDU. The development of the new IAU astroEDU activities and videos was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).