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Observing the Universe from the classroom

1 October 2015

Telescope

New funding for University outreach project gives thousands of Welsh schoolchildren access to global high-tech telescope network

Primary school children in Wales will be given the chance to explore the Universe using high-tech telescopes around the world, thanks to new funding awarded to a Cardiff University outreach project.

Sitting in the comfort of their classroom, the schoolchildren will be able to investigate the many wonders of the cosmos by controlling telescopes remotely over the internet.

The initiative is part of the next phase of Cardiff University’s Universe in the Classroom outreach project, which has received a further 3-years funding from the National Science Academy of the Welsh Government.

The goal is to inspire the next generation of scientists by getting students to pursue their own investigations using professional-quality scientific equipment and data, and to help develop critical thinking skills and digital literacy at a very early age. 

The ‘Robotic Telescope for Wales’ is a partnership between the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT) network, Cardiff University and Welsh Government.

The Robotic Telescope for Wales programme is ready for primary schools to log on to and control from September 2015.  The primary school students will get access to a newly built telescope in Chile at the Las Cumbres Observatory, one of the best observing sites in the World, as well as a dozen other professional telescopes through the partnerships with LCOGT.

Sarah Eve Roberts, Project Coordinator for Universe in the Classroom, said: “The Robotic Telescope for Wales is the only robotic telescope education programme in the world dedicated to primary school children, and is only available to Welsh pupils. This unique tool will offer our partner schools a complementary digital aspect to the hands-on materials provided to them during the first phase of the project.”

As part of the project, which is also led by Dr Edward Gomez and Professor Haley Gomez from Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, the team will develop a range of enquiry-based e-learning activities based on observing the Universe using the telescope.

Throughout 2014, the Universe in the Classroom project engaged with 99 Welsh primary schools, trained 131 teachers and reached thousands of students across Wales, providing hands-on resources and professional training.

“This project also aims to support teachers by providing them with innovative resources and exciting opportunities to invigorate their science lessons,” commented Dr Edward Gomez.

“Without the investment from the Welsh Government, Cardiff University and Las Cumbres Observatory, and our partnership with the Universe Awareness project who inspired us, this would not have been possible.”

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