The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Galileo Teacher Training Programme (GTTP) joined forces again this year to offer cutting-edge training opportunities to all those teachers who are interested in space exploration and innovative and inclusive STEAM education. The course was held online from 19 to 23 October, and hosted around 100 teachers from all over the world.
This time, the ESA-GTTP courses marked two milestones: it was the first time this course was coordinated by the CESAR (Cooperation through Education in Science and Astronomy Research) educational project, which is a consortium consisting of ESA, ISDEFE and INTA located in ESAC, not ESA Educación (at ESTEC), and it was the first time it was held online due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The training was organised primarily by the CESAR Team, in close collaboration with NUCLIO (designers of the GTTP), the educational staff of PETeR and CosmoLab at the IAC (Astrophysics Institute of the Canary Islands), and the educational staff of the Faulkes Telescope and the National Schools’ Observatory.
The course was introduced by Isdefe’s Director of Business Development, Mr. Jesús Alonso Martín, and by Isdefe employee Beatriz González García, PhD in astrophysics and coordinator of CESAR science experiments with schools, and of the science content for CESAR educational materials, as well as by the European Space Agency’s Science Director, Dr Günther Hasinger, and INTA’s representative at CESAR, Dr Miguel Mas Hesse.
The ESA scientists discussed the latest research, especially during the presentations by the director of the ESA’s Operations Division, Dr Rune Floberhagen, and by the director of the ESA’s science operations, Dr Markus Kissler-Patig. The science teams demonstrated hands-on research activities tailored to the curriculum using digital tools and actual scientific data.
Along with explanations on how to obtain the scientific data from the European Space Agency’s science missions and from the CESAR, PETeR, Faulkes and National Schools’ Observatories telescopes, sessions were held on how to request observation time on educational robotic telescopes and virtual tours of ESAC facilities.
The course included a voyage from the closest to the furthest objects with a look at how scientific discoveries have impacted society. The first day started with the known, the Earth and space exploration aboard the ESA’s Copernicus, SMOS and Galileo missions. Our neighbouring planet Mars was studied on the second day through the ESA’s Mars Express and ExoMars missions. The focus of attention on the third day was the observations of the ESA’s SOHO and Solar Orbiter missions, and what they have discovered, and may yet reveal, about our own Sun. The fourth day dealt with the ESA’s missions to observe the cosmos and involved types of stars, stellar nurseries, galaxies and methods for detecting dark matter and gravitational waves. The course ended on Friday with a discussion of how science and space exploration impact society, and with a virtual tour of the Galileo, SMOS, Mars Express and XMM control rooms, along with other activities.