Overview of the project

Project leader: Sebastien Guillot, guillots@physics.mcgill.ca
Project location: Quebec, Canada

Project description:
AstroMcGill, the astronomy outreach group at McGill University, will organise a new program called “Adopt an Astronomer”. This program will send McGill University’s young professional astronomers (graduate students or post-doctoral researchers) to primary school classrooms around Québec, multiple times a year.

In other words, each partner classroom will “adopt” their own astronomer, interacting with her/him on multiple occasions during the school year. In addition, each astronomer will be matched with one of McGill’s Faculty of Education pre-service/in-service teachers, forming pairs visiting the same classroom throughout the program duration.

The goals of this program are two-fold:
– Educational: it will provide science mentors to school children, inspiring them to pursue a life-long love of science while teaching and promoting important astronomy concepts.
– Pedagogical: it will foster the exchange of skills between the pre-service/in-service teachers (pedagogy, how to engage young children, etc…) and the professional astronomers (knowledge of astronomy and science).

These free classroom visits will consist of multiple hands-on, fun astronomy activities and scientific experiments held in the classrooms. The creation and of this unique program will open new opportunities for science promotion in Québec. We plan to reach over 500 students in the first year, and possibly more in the following years.

The “Adopt an Astronomer” program will directly expose school children to a wide variety of astronomy and science topics, beyond the basic primary school science curriculum in Québec. Astronomy activities and experiments naturally generate excitement in science, and help develop critical thinking.

With those activities, and with the establishment of a relationship between children and their “adopted” astronomer, our program will have a direct impact on the stereotypical views most children have of scientists. The goal is to provide scientific mentors for the school children, hoping to suppress these stereotypes and to foster the development of a lifelong love for astronomy and science.

About the project leader:
Dr. Sebastien Guillot is a Post-doctoral Researcher and the AstroMcGill Outreach Coordinator in the Physics Department of McGill University. Mr. Guillot co-founded AstroMcGill, the astronomy outreach group of graduate students and post-doc fellows in astrophysics at McGill.