COSMOamautas: Training Teachers in rural areas in Peru

“The quality of education in Peruvian schools is the second lowest in the Latin-american region and well below the standards in developed countries, as shown by the most recent PISA evaluation. This situation is especially critical for girls in rural areas, reflecting the acute problem of gender inequality and the centralisation of teacher training to the capital and large cities. This project aims to conduct the COSMOamautas program (amauta=teacher/knowledgeable in the indigenous language Quechua), to bring teacher training workshops in Astronomy and Space Science to high school teachers in rural areas in Peru.

We have selected rural communities where the only two professional national telescopes have been recently built, yet their presence has made no impact on the science awareness in the area due to the lack of concerted outreach efforts and funding. In this pilot edition of COSMOamautas we will target the Junin region, hosting the IGP-UNI telescope. We will develop an educational handbook in Spanish to introduce the school teachers to different areas of astronomy through hands-on experimental activities to be used in the classroom. Finally, we will motivate the creation of a self-sustaining high school Astronomy Club led by the teachers and hosting motivated students. The club will have the support from the COSMOamautas team researchers remotely.

This workshop additionally includes outreach visits to schools, giving particular emphasis to the role of women in astronomy and promoting gender-equality. For more effective empowerment of young girls to identify themselves as scientists, the volunteer trainer team is led by young Peruvian female astronomers with successful research careers at international institutions around the globe, supported by local female physics undergraduate volunteers. The multiplicative impact of our project will enrich the science education of >3000 students otherwise unaware of the astronomy activities carried out in their region.”