2019 Recommended Projects

Every year, the OAD receives numerous, good quality proposals that we are unable to support. We compile these projects on to a ‘Recommended List’, which is shared here for the benefit of potential funders. The 2019 Recommended List has 18 projects. Read the project summaries below.

Please contact us to support or collaborate with one or more of the projects.

AstroSEES: Science Education through Existing Senses USA and Spanish speaking    countries AstroSEES seeks to fill the gap in curriculums for the visually impaired. In preparing courses to meet new accessibility requirements, we realized that an astronomy curriculum accessible to the visually impaired does not exist. Other projects, such as the IAU OAD-supported  AstroSense, an outreach program through the Space Telescope Science Institute, and You Can do Astronomy, have developed tactile images aimed at general audiences. However, there is no curriculum to teach them anything more than the bare basics. The goal is to develop a curriculum intended for secondary (age 14 and up) and university astronomy students. The curriculum will consist of a workbook covering such topics as the structure of planets, HR diagrams and the relative ages of star clusters, Hubble’s law, the structure of galaxies, etc. The workbook will be accompanied by a set of 3-D printed tactile images to be used alongside the images in the workbook for sighted students, or on their own in lieu of the printed images. The scope of the workbook will be suitable for a “universe in a semester” style course. We have been in touch with the Visually Impaired program of the Region 9 district of Texas and the Texas School for the Blind. The only science curriculum they currently have is for biology. Astronomy is often seen as a gateway science, leading students to explore other fields. The materials will give educators a chance to strengthen their students’ critical thinking and analytical skills.
Celebrating Principe: bridging the gap between science, school and society at Sundy São Tomé e Príncipe, but also Brazil, Cape  Verde, Mozambique and Portugal and eventually England. SSS@S’ main goal is to integrate educational and outreach components in the celebrations of Eddignton’s observations at Roça Sundy (Principe Island). The activities will be an integral part of a program that is being built in collaboration with the International science community to celebrate the grandeur of Eddington’s experiment in Principe, as well as its relevance to science and its consequences. The event marks a historical landmark, the celebration of the 100 years of the  International Astronomical Union, in which Eddington played a major role from 1938 to 1944 (president). The implementation foresees teacher training events, activities with schools, and public conferences. The programme will take place during a week in both islands. Our target audiences are teachers, students, civil society and policy makers. Teacher training will focus on curricular topics related to Astronomy, and will integrate methodologies such as Inquiry Based Learning, Interdisciplinarity, and design, implementation and assessment of the projects. Actions with students aim to motivate them for science and involve them in the celebrations. To achieve that, there will be a guided tour of the Thematic Space, interaction between students from Lusophone countries, as well as confrontation with different contexts and realities maximizing the use of technology. The Thematic Space will be inaugurated on May 29th 2019 and will be the island’s first Science Centre.
Science Teachers Astronomy Revitalization Program Philippines This program aims to deliver a Summer School for non-Astronomy Astronomy Teachers. These are science teachers who are teaching astronomy in junior and senior high school. Our team would like to deliver the very first of a kind of lecture in astronomy and skills training in handling telescopes to about fifty (50) science teachers (teachers, graduate students, amateur astronomers) all over the country. This program will make them fit to teach astronomy concepts in their schools and ideas can be shared throughout their community. The program will run for intensive lectures and skills training for five days to be held every summer in the Philippines, starting in 2019.
AstroBus Ethiopia 2 Ethiopia Astrobus Ethiopia is a mobile astronomy outreach program that will be carried out by driving a motor vehicle (bus) to different locations in Ethiopia. Inspired by the success of the 2017 AstroBus Ethiopia project, where a group of astronomers, astrophysicists, engineers, artists, and scientists, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Space Science Society, traveled to 10 regional cities in the Southern part of Ethiopia. They taught basic knowledge about Astronomy and space science through the use of exciting astronomy knowledge as a tool. The project inspired thousands of elementary, high school and university students who have lower exposure and access to the field of Astronomy and space science in general. Following the 2017 Astrobus Ethiopia project, the ESSS would like to reach and expand the project to the northern region of Ethiopia. The ESSS aims to continue building a society with a highly developed scientific culture that enables Ethiopia to reap the benefit occurring from space science and technology. Using astronomy activities as a tool, we want to inspire and ignite curiosity in people. We believe the Astrobus project provides an excellent opportunity and methodology to reach out to the general public in a very creative and inspiring way.
Astronomy Girls Get Into the Planetarium Brazil The main idea of this project is to construct a bridge between Planetarium and two selected schools. We have already received more than 50,000 kids in the planetarium and about 1,000 school teachers in Astronomy Courses. However, we are still looking for a more consistent link to the schools, especially a program devoted to Women in Astronomy. We plan to reach our main goals selecting school girls interested in astronomy, to build planetarium shows about Women in Astronomy, Cultural Astronomy and any other topic on astronomy. We will select one teacher and two students in each school as well as one university student that will work together with each school team. These two teams will receive scholarships to develop the project. During the first half of the year, the university students will offer courses on Astronomy and on Computational Tools to create planetarium shows. The university students will be selected from those that are already working in the planetarium this year. The courses will take place both at the school and at the planetarium. During the second semester, the schools shall work on the development of the shows to be had in December. We expect that this program will encourage girls to follow a career in Science and Technology; create a more solid bridge to link the planetarium and the schools; create, at least, two shows about Women in Astronomy, Cultural Astronomy or other astronomical subjects of their interest.
The Annular Eclipse of December 2019: An opportunity for Initiation of an Astronomy Awareness Program in Sri Lanka   Sri Lanka The annular solar eclipse of 26th Dec. 2019 visible to Sri Lanka will be a good opportunity to launch a founding program to initiate astronomical awareness in the country. The proposal aims to conduct observation camps and arrange lectures for school students in Jaffna – a less privileged region in Sri Lanka, affected by more than three decades of conflict now in the process of resolution. Another aim is to expose society to the intellectual power of astronomy, taking advantage of this rare event. The prevalent superstition contributes much to the religious fundamentalism that foments distrust among communities. Astronomy awareness is expected have an impact on society at large in abandoning superstitious thinking detrimental to almost all human activities. The team includes a diverse group of experts in deferent disciplines. The program will hold briefing observation camps, sessions with teachers and university students. The participating students will be selected on the basis of a test, and recommendations that consider gender and economic status. Before the eclipse, students will be exposed to lectures, encouraged to read selected materials and undertake projects such as construction of pin-hole projectors. The camps include intermittent panel discussions. Action will be taken to publish articles relevant to the theme before and after the event. Solar irradiance and climatic parameters will be also be measured. Pre/post-test, surveys and focus group interview data will also be collected.
BIODome (Mobile Planetary) Astronomy and Biodiversity Colombia The objective of this project is to promote astronomy learning in rural communities that have been affected by the Colombian civil conflict (conflict between FARC, ELN and Army of Colombia) in Santa Isabel, Tolima, Colombia. This will be done through the support of a planetary dome built with low-cost materials, telescopes, didactic suitcases of astronomy (e.g. Universe in a Box-UNAWE), which will allow participants to build a comprehensive identity about the admiration of the cosmos. Also, the project will work on aspects of biodiversity education. Colombia is one of the countries with the highest levels of biodiversity in the world but also with high deforestation rates (IDEAM 2016, https://bit.ly/2noYc5E) and 1320 threatened species, according to Instituto Humboldt (SIB Colombia 2018, https://bit.ly/2MvBfc0), MADS (Resolucion 1972 de 2017 https://bit.ly/2qUkqi7) and IUCN REDLIST (https://bit.ly/1jBPzkp). In this way, it’s essential to raise people’s awareness about the privilege of living in a country with abundant biological diversity and the possibility of being located near the equatorial line, which allows us to observe 88 constellations in the celestial sphere. The project schedule involves visiting the 18% of total rural schools of the project area (5 schools), as well as 4 astro-camps in the rural lodging dedicated to astro-tourism and nature tours, which promote the culture of science in a post-conflict zone.
Strengthen collaboration by exchange visits between Tay Nguyen University and Japanese institutions   Vietnam One of the ways to develop a rural area is to nurture the curiosity of the young generation and encourage the local residents to join the inquiry into our origins. We are constructing an astronomical observatory in Tay Nguyen University (TNU), Buon Ma Thuot (BMT) in Vietnam, to promote an inclusive education in astronomy. The observatory will consist of optical and radio telescopes and will be used by TNU students as part of a series of research-based training programs for students and staff of TNU and physics curriculum. It will be also used for outreach activities that will involve the public of the entire province. We will also set up an annual research training program for the students, and engage locals, especially high-school children, with various public nights programs. For the first time, there will be a local, hands-on experience on astronomy in BMT. The final products of the project will be an observatory, a team of well-trained professional astronomers who can propagate the spirit to the general public, and an annual training program. This project also aims at building human capacity by providing the students and the public with a new facility to understand the universe and train students and staff to the method of scientific inquiry. We request the IAU-OAD to support the sub-project EV-TNU-JP that aims at strengthening collaboration between TNU and Japanese institutes, and at completing the manufacturing of the telescope tube by the end of 2019.
Rescue of the worldview of pre-Colombian cultures Colombia Through this project we intend to reach the Muisca and Tayrona indigenous communities by establishing an approach and generating an exercise to share their worldview and perspective of the sky in order to preserve their astronomical knowledge. These cultures are located in a few municipalities in Colombia and they are at a big risk of losing their traditions, language and worldview. It is very important to preserve their knowledge. This information will be compiled and disseminated in the country through print and digital media, generating a process of cultural approach and a great social and educational impact, bringing the general public closer to the astronomical knowledge of our ancestors. The project will reach two indigenous communities (Muisca and Tayrona) and the collected material will be spread and freely used. The benefit to the indigenous communities is the gathering of that information that even between them is being lost. After the booklets are printed, we will return to the communities with the materials, so that they will share these among them and use them to maintain their traditions and knowledge, while also communicating it with the young ones that might be losing their roots.
Escola de Verão de Astronomia nas escolas CAFE de Timor-Leste/Astronomy Summer School in East Timor CAFE Schools   East-Timor East-Timor CAFE – Learning and Teaching School Centres – aims to support upgrading basic and secondary teachers’ capacitation. There are 13 CAFE schools, one in each district. On Dec. 26, 2019, a partial solar eclipse will be widely observable in East-Timor. Oral tradition has some scarce references to these natural phenomena, but younger generations are disconnected and struggle to translate them into scientific knowledge. IAstroCAFE – a one day course on Astronomy basic concepts, at each school, + sky obs. – was conceived to address this gap through: 1) Empowering East-Timorese primary-to-high school teachers (1st target) to use Astronomy as the catalyser to study and teach all STEM subjects through basic activities easily reproducible with available materials in deprived school’s context, including safe observation of solar eclipses and involvement in a culturally adapted draft of a bilingual handout on “Partial sun eclipse – Dec. 26, 2019”; 2) Raise students’ awareness of Natural Sciences, Maths and Physics by connecting theoretical concepts with day to day astronomical observations, and inspiring them to the common sheltering skies; 3) Sensitize the schools’ hosting communities to same basic concepts, tiding ancestral traditions, environment preservation and global awareness via sky guided tours. IAstroCAFE will help PLOAD to achieve its objectives in East-Timor by fostering the participation of locals already engaged, and new collaborations. Training approach #19
Telescope Library for Every School India A telescope is a simple but effective instrument through which one can convey the excitement of astronomy. A small telescope (5-10 cm aperture) is good enough for observing the moon, planets and some deep-sky objects during clear skies. However, it is still an expensive asset, which is beyond the financial reach of most government schools in rural India. Our main goal is to cater a fully equipped telescope library to government schools so that the kids can borrow a telescope from their schools and use it at night time with their family and friends. We propose to design a telescope with a good image quality that can be mass produced at a reasonable cost. We will start from an existing telescope design (gyano–telescope), which is a good option in terms of cost but poor in build and image quality, and improve this further to make the telescope more robust and economical. We will identify 20-25 government schools and for each school, we plan to create a library of about 10 telescopes. A set of activities and learning modules such as Telescope handling instructions, sky-charts, and list of bright night sky objects etc., will also be distributed along with the hands-on training sessions at these schools. Sky-watch programmes will also be conducted at few locations. Each school will have one or two key resource persons (preferably a science or maths teacher) for managing the telescope library. They will be our main point of contact for planning and coordinating the activities.
West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers   All countries in West Africa and other African countries The West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers (WAISSYA) is an innovative short course in astronomy for university students that is designed and taught by a global collaboration of astronomers using educational research principles. The school is designed to give science students the opportunity to further develop their interest in astronomy, inspire their scientific curiosity, and enhance their practices of scientific thinking; at the same time, instructors will have the opportunity of exchanging educational ideas between West Africa and the world. The proposed WAISSYA 2019 that will be held in Abuja, Nigeria, would be the fourth in the series of previous schools. It will be organized through collaborations by a team of astronomers from across the world. The school consists of two parallel streams: an undergraduate stream covering the basics of astronomy and space science; and a postgraduate stream which focuses on radio astronomy research. WAISSYA 2019 will combine lectures, with interactive problem-solving sessions, hands-on experience, and innovative inquiry-based activities to drive home the knowledge transfer that will guarantee our manpower needs in West Africa. Through these, students learn science concepts and research skills via facilitated exploration of real data which gives a deep, lasting understanding and also promote students’ scientific skills and self-confidence. This is a special time for astronomy in West Africa due to the new radio telescope in Ghana.
Ghana Inter-high School Space Science Quiz Competition Ghana In Ghana, the subject and field of Astronomy and Space Science is not well featured into the education curriculum. In 2014, my team (All Nations University – Space Systems Technology Laboratory) organized the first ever inter-school competition in Space science with the aim of exposing students into further knowledge about the field. The 2014 project had schools from different districts in Ghana represented for the competition. This achievement stirred the interest of the students to know more about Space science. My team went ahead to develop the first satellite for the country dubbed “GhanaSat-1”, which is now being used as a tool for Space education in the country. My project idea is to create the platform for a national sensitization program in the field of Astronomy and Space Science. This is a way to complement the minimal volume of teachings on this field taught in the high schools. The scope of the project targets high school students with a key focus on female participation. In this project, my team is going to organize quiz competitions between high schools in Ghana. The subject matter of the competition will be Space Science. There are 10 regions and 275 constituencies in Ghana. The competition will feature 10 selected schools from the 10 regions of Ghana. Each school will be represented by 3 contestants, at least one of which must be female. The purpose is to create the platform for students to competitively study more Astronomy.
Astronomy Teachers Training Workshop Nigeria The idea behind this project is to train primary and secondary school science teachers on astronomy, to create awareness in our communities using these teachers to spread the knowledge gained in their respective schools and the society in general. It is important to create an opportunity for these teachers to learn more about the universe and give them the basic understanding of astronomy, while also providing them with an opportunity to introduce clubs and extra-curricular activities regarding astronomy where interested students and individuals can join and learn more about the space and its environs. The project’s main target is to train 50 teachers (25 primary and 25 secondary) from various public and private schools on the basics of astronomy, and also focus on making room for these teachers to broaden and expand the network of astronomers all over the country using these clubs, groups and forums. We believe we can improve the quality of education in schools and broaden the knowledge of interested individuals. We also plan to introduce the participants to astronomy related organisations such as UNAWE-NIGERIA, AWB NIGERIA, etc., and to encourage them to follow up on articles, newsletters, updates on astronomy all over the world. The project comprises a 2-day workshop in the federal capital territory (Abuja), consisting of PowerPoint presentations, manuals, work books, hands-on activities, educational videos, documentaries and Workshop materials.
The Palestinian Advanced Physics School, 2019 The West Bank  and Gaza Strip, a.k.a. The Palestinian Occupied Territories (‘Palestine’) We propose to organise a one-week summer school (PAPS19) in astrophysics in the West Bank. The primary goal of PAPS19 is to introduce students to topics in contemporary astrophysics research, in particular exoplanets, gravitational waves, and cosmology. PAPS19 will be hosted by Birzeit University during the summer of 2019, and organised in close collaboration between international and local scientists. Each course will be lectured by an internationally recognised expert in the area (typically a senior professor). In addition to traditional lectures, PAPS19 will include collaborative problem solving sessions, a panel discussion on opportunities in academia, and a workshop on application writing. The school will also include social events providing informal opportunities for the students to interact with lecturers, organisers, and students from other universities. There will also be an outreach event, open to the general public, to increase visibility of the school and science in general. PAPS19 is organised by Scientists for Palestine (S4P), an international organisation created by and for scientists to promote science and support the integration of the occupied Palestinian territories into the international scientific community. S4P has successfully organised similar schools (on other topics) in 2016 at the Arab-American University in Jenin, and in 2017 at Birzeit University. For more information see www.scientists4palestine.com.
Multi-sensorial Astronomical Kit for Exploring the Universe (MAKE the Universe) Italy and Spain, at first. Spreading to Nigeria, Kenya, Colombia and other underprivileged countries Modern astronomy is not only a visual science. Astronomical observations are mostly made of numbers representing data that our eyes are unable to perceive; numbers are often converted into images, but they could be converted into any other sensory stimulus. Numerical data are a common ground that can be used for creating effective inclusion or, even better, “communion” among people with diverse sensory abilities and competences. We plan to design, test and evaluate an educational lab for children aged 7-14. They will experience multi-sensorial 2D on-sky maps of the Universe, showing data through visual, tactile and acoustic stimuli, recalling each other (synesthetic representation). This is to show that astronomical observations are always about identifying signals that overtake the background noise and reveal something, regardless of the sense used to detect it. Children will then be encouraged to create their own maps using new technologies (such as makey makey® or touch boards® ) capable of matching sounds to touchable objects or drawing, by means of sensors and conductive paint. We will create a set of prototypes and then 30 portable kits for spreading the activity all over the world. The design and testing phase will be conducted involving teachers in 10-12 classes, the Italian Union of Blind and Partially Sighted people, associations of deaf people and other Special Educational Needs (SEN) experts. The lab will be completed by a tutorial, also in audio version.
Visions of Light – Constellations Kit Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe, East Timor Constellations originate mainly from a few cultures and have become international references to navigate the night sky. While acknowledging the origin and purpose of constellations, other communities around the world, including ethnic groups living in the Portuguese speaking countries, should preserve and value their own ways of connecting the sky to their culture as their own heritage. To do so, people need to understand what they see in the sky, learn about stars and help reduce light pollution. In this way, they can fully enjoy the sky and the ways it is seen in other parts of the world, promoting tolerance and cultural diversity. The project is targeted at 6-14 years-old children in schools and learning settings in Portuguese speaking countries. The dissemination may be supported by the Portuguese Language Office of Astronomy for Development (PLOAD). It aims to produce and distribute a set of free educational resources on paper with activities linking literacy about the stars to local visions of the night sky. The activities invite to: 1) understand that a constellation is a delimited area on the sky; 2) find out local representations linked to the night sky; 3) explore the distances between the stars within the same constellation; 4) associate star colours to their surface temperature; 5) discuss the relationship between a star apparent brightness, its distance and temperature; 6) compare the light pollution in the area where they live to that in major cities.
Starry Bridges To Reduce Inequalities  Greece The recent refugee crisis brought back the need for language education for refugees. [Ref.4] There are ∼2,000 4-5 year olds and ∼8,000 5-15 year olds living in Refugee Hosted Hospitals (CPCs), plus another∼8,000 kids living outside CPCs! [Ref.1] Language skills are essential for social and professional improvement, and the integration of refugee/immigrant kids into society strongly depends on their education, so it is crucial to support them in-school. [Ref.4,7] Between 2014 and 2017, there were over a million arrivals in Greece, and refugees keep coming mostly through the Eastern Aegean islands, with 37% of all arrivals being kids. [Ref.6-8] We intend to organise activities on refugees/immigrants’ education and inclusion in public schools, 2 in West Thessaloniki, 1 in Chios, and 1 in Lesbos islands. Every school will choose the best approach or implementation method for its activities [See Field.19]. We aim to use Astronomy to actively engage and include refugee students in school activities; to highlight the contributions of various cultures to Astronomy [Ref.41-45], with special emphasis on the Arab world (see arrivals at Ref.8); to teach basic linguistic skills for the smooth integration of refugees/immigrants into Greek society, showing also need of integrate Astronomy in the curricula. An Initial Seminar for Teachers will be held; we will develop a logo, a blog, material in Braille, a global competition and a closing conference.