The first hybrid edition of the International Summer School for Teachers at the IAC has concluded

Participants of the AEACI 2022 Course 

Participantes de la octava edición de la escuela “Astronomy Education Adventure in the Canary Islands”. Crédito: Iván Jiménez (IAC)
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Last week saw the ending of the eighth edition of the school “Astronomy Education Adventure in the Canary Islands” coordinated by the IAC and NUCLIO, with the participation of 56 teachers from 17 countries. “Astronomy for Sustainable Development” was the central theme of this edition.

For the eighth consecutive year the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and NUCLIO, in collaboration with several educational projects, have joined forces to organize the international summer school for teachers “Astronomy Education Adventure in the Canary Islands” (AEACI 2022). Motivated by the celebration of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development, this edition was aimed at picking out the contribution of astronomy to the objectives of sustainable development.

After two years in virtual mode, the school was held for the first time in hybrid format, with 20 participants attending personally in Tenerife, and 35 participants on-line, from Spain and 16 other countries (Romania, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Algeria, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Serbia and Ukraine). A further 50 teachers registered with the school to get access to the material and recordings of the various sessions after the event.

The school was held from 24th to 29th July in IACTEC and in the IAC headquarters, in La Laguna, and consisted of lectures and practical workshops, as well as teaching visits to the IACTEC installations, the Museum of Science and the Cosmos (Museums of Tenerife), and the Teide Observatory, plus an optional visit to the Visitor Centre and the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory (La Palma) on July 30th. 

The aim of the school is to give the participating teachers the knowledge and the tools to enable them to stimulate their students’ interest in science and technology via their participation in research projects in astronomy and related fields, as well as to promote knowledge of the sky and its preservation as part of the legacy of humanity.

The programme is organized in the framework of the Educational Project with Robotic Telescopes (PETeR, its acronym in Spanish) in collaboration with the Interactive Nucleus of Astronomy (NUCLIO), the Faulkes Telescope Project (FTP), National Schools’ Observatory (NSO), and CESAR (Cooperation through Education in Science and Astronomy Research) initiative (ESA-INTA-ISDEE).

The school was funded partly by the Unit of Communication and Science Culture (UC3) and the Severo Ochoa Programme of the IAC.

Astronomy for Sustainable Development

In 2015 the United Nations agreed on an Agenda for Sutainable Development 2030, which aimed at making the world a better place via 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These objectives defined a route map, which every country should follow to eradicate poverty, protect the planet, and promote peace and prosperity for all. Astronomy is in a unique position to contribute to the SDG from several points of view.

Firstly, it has been shown that astronomy is an excellent way to generate enthusiasm for science and attract young people to STEM subjects (Science, Techonolgy, Engineering, and Mathematics). The projects presented in AEACI 2022 are aimed at helping students to develop critical thinking, and scientific/technological ability, which reflects directly on SDG 4, Quality Education, and SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth. It also stimulates collaborative work between studens in different educational centres and countries, contributing to SDG 10, Reduced Inequalities, and SDG 17, Partnerships to achieve the goals.

Many of the projects also seek to reduce the gender gap in STEM subjects, contributing to SDG 5, Gender Equality. PETeR also promotes an equitative participation in research projects, with similar roles for boys and girls. In addition, students are offered new role models via lectures, videos and tutorials by the women astronomers in the project, and by women astrophysicists who collaborate with it.

Light pollution not only affects our observation of the Universe, but it also has a negative impact on many species of animals, and can affect the health of human beings. For that reason, actions to reduce it often promoted by astronomical institutions such as the IAC, have very positive impacts on SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy, and SDG 15, Life on land. Also the Starlight Foundation has led an initiative to create a new SDG 18, for the Quality of the Night Sky and access to the light of the stars.

The technology, and the research methods develoed in astronomy, for example techniques for infrared imaging, have given us valuable ways to understand terrestrial systems and climate change, contributing to SDG 15 and also to SDG 13, Climate Action.

Astrophysics also gives us a unique view of the world and its inhabitants. We have discovered over 5000 exoplanets, many of which could harbour conditions for habitability. We can learn a great deal about these distant worlds, but for the time being we cannot travel to them. As astronomers it is our responsability to inform society, and especially the coming generations, of the singularity and the fragility of our only home, the Earth, as well as eliciting conscience about the need to protect our planet and its climate. 

The team

The people who have made this training course possible are:

Chairs: Nayra Rodríguez (IAC) and Rosa Doran (NUCLIO)

Local organizers (IAC): Nayra Rodríguez, Irene Puerto and Iván Jiménez

Lecturers: Nayra Rodríguez (IAC), Rosa Doran (NUCLIO), Irene Puerto (IAC), Gustavo Rojas (NUCLIO), Fraser Lewis (NSO, FTP), Sandra Benítez (CESAR), Juan Ángel Vaquerizo (CESAR), Rafael Rebolo (IAC), Xana Delpueyo (IACTEC), Felipe Murgas (IAC), Miquel Serra (IAC) and Rafael Barrena (IAC).

Technical and audiovisual support: Iván Jiménez (IAC)

Design: Inés Bonet (IAC)

Technical secretariat: Ana Costa (NUCLIO) and Magna Congresos

Social network support: Teresa Direitinho (NUCLIO), Iván Jiménez (IAC) and Joana Magalhães Silva (NUCLIO)

More information:

AEACI 2022 Webpage

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The Educational Project with Robotic Telescopes (PETeR) is an online laboratory that aims to engage Spanish students in science and technology and to foster the acquisition of STEM skills through their active participation in real scientific research using robotic telescopes. Through the project's website, the educational community has access to
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