Athens Innovation and Training Workshops
August 1, 2016

Outreach, innovation, training and making new friends… 

Outreach has been a core part of Europlanet since the project started in 2005, but our activities are just a tiny part of a huge community of enthusiastic and dedicated science communicators across Europe doing fantastic work to engage members of the public, schools and teachers with planetary science.

On 4th and 5th July, we held two workshops at the Coral Hotel in Athens to find out about successful outreach and education initiatives, to discuss current challenges in outreach, to brainstorm new ideas, and to learn new skills for engaging with teachers.

Best practice and brainstorming

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Our Outreach Innovation Day, “Planets Meeting the Public”, on 4th July was attended by 24 researchers, students, teachers, outreach professionals and journalists from Greece, France, Germany, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Sri Lanka and the UK. The day began with presentations on best practice for engaging with journalists, the mass media, social media and the public, as well as a series of presentations on using astronomy-related topics/activities to engage the public, including amateur astronomy, archaeoastronomy, history of astronomy, and astronomy-inspired music. Abstracts and presentations for download can be found here.

Following the presentations, the attendees split into two groups to discuss (1) direct engagement with the public through face-to-face or social media and (2) engagment with journalists and the mass media. Both groups were challenged to brainstorm best practice (Dos and Don’ts) and to start a roadmapping process (Priorities, Challenges and Opportunities) for their type of engagement.

Outcomes include:

  • the launch of a Europlanet newsletter to focus on outreach activities (other means of communication also being investigated e.g. Facebook group and forum)
  • Shared documents online to continue the strategizing begun during the afternoon brainstorming session of the Outreach Innovation Day. The aim is to write up the conclusions of both groups as a paper for the Communicating Astronomy to the Public (CAP) Journal.
  • The next workshops will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, in summer 2017.

Learning new skills

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The following day, 15 participants took part in a full day of training on ‘Engaging with Teachers’. The workshop was led by Rosa Doran of the Galileo Teacher Training Programme and Iris Nijman and Wouter Schrier of TEMI, who gave us an introduction to Enquiry Based Learning and the TEMI methodology. We were then split into small groups and challenged to develop activity plans for teachers and students, applying the enquiry based learning and TEMI approaches to planetary related research.  The groups came up with three activities, themed around exoplanets, evaluating aurora forecasts and understanding why large planetary objects take on a spherical form.

Juno Public Event, July 5th

Juno Public Event

Around 150 people attended a public event at the Coral Hotel in Athens to celebrate the arrival of the Juno mission at Jupiter. The event included the official premiere of Europlanet’s first animation, Jupiter and its Icy Moons. The panel for the event included Ioannis Daglis, who gave an overview of solar system exploration, Athena Coustenis, who presented ESA’s JUICE mission to Jupiter and Iannis Dandouras Juno’s PI, Scott Bolton, and Michel Blanc both joined the panel via a live link from JPL. The event was moderated by Eleni Chatzichristou.  If you would like to watch the event, please keep an eye out on Europlanet’s YouTube channel. We have filmed the talks and will be uploading an edited version in the near future.

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Many thanks to Thilina Heenatigala, Stratos Koufos and Iakovos Strikis for their technical support for the public event, and to Eleni Chatzichristou and Ioannis Daglis for the organisation of all the events over the two days.

 

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