The recent pandemic generated a wave of concern around the world and deprived us from our loved ones and a life we took for granted, suddenly, was no longer there. Schools had to change and educators had to face a reality that was very far from their comfort zone. But not all is bad news. COVID-19 brought to light a reality that existed for a long time, but was hidden under the carpet, the fragile digital competence profile of educators and their learners. For us it quickly became an opportunity. With every country locking down their frontiers, the many scheduled teacher training events had to be organized online. Three large events, to be held in the Canary Islands, Madrid and Japan were brought to the cloud.
The Astronomy Education in the Canary Islands is a joint effort from the Institute of Astrophysics of Canary Island and the Galileo Teacher Training Program (coordinated by NUCLIO). Every year around 50 educators join in the beautiful island of Tenerife. This year we had a different scenario, more than 200 teachers from 28 countries participated in the online training event. They had the opportunity to take a virtual visit around the facilities in Tenerife and La Palma, to attend lectures provided by astrophysicists and participate in several workshops. Several of them were conducted by NUCLIO carrying the flag of Our Space our Future. Some of the activities that integrate our toolkit for the project were presented and teachers invited to participate in the project.
Another big hit during summer was the Global Hands-on Universe Conference. Over 500 scientists, teachers and students from 85 different countries had the opportunity to share their ideas, to participate in several talks and attend a multitude of workshops. Our Space our Future was again featured in several workshops organized by NUCLIO were the activities that integrate our toolkit were presented. The conference happens every year in a different country and different continent. Usually 50 to 100 people participate in the face-to-face event. This year was a dream come thru; the world could participate. The enthusiasm of participants was unique and organizers have already decided that the online component is here to stay.
The fun continued with a very well organized Journey through Space Exploration, a training event jointly organized by the European Space Agency (CESAR educational programme at ESAC in Madrid) and the Galileo Teacher Training Program. The event was due to take place in Madrid last October but had to be moved online. The result was the participation of over 200 people from 32 different countries. Participants had the opportunity to visit the various facilities in the premisses of ESAC, the headquarters of ESA in Madrid. Each day was devoted to a different topic related to the exploration of our Solar System and beyond. Various workshops were again targeting the OurSpace Our Future toolkit but this time teachers had a surprise, a toolkit composed by the icons, infographics, drawings and other material coming from the collection of Our Space our Future, was distributed to all participants. Teachers felt very inspired and happy to be able to use the material in their lessons. Both the Astronomy Adventure and the Journey through Space Exploration are a result of a collaborative effort of various organizations and projects, namely:
NUCLIO, Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Island, CESAR educational programme (ESA), Cosmo-lab project, the Faulkes Telescope, National Schools Observatory and the European School Innovation Academy.
For sure there will not be another year like 2020, it will be remembered forever. To us, educators it will be the year the world forgot its boundaries and countries frontiers. Our Space our Future was a theme uniting everyone in this beautiful planet that from space have to political divisions, just humans sharing this beautiful piece of the Universe.