NUCLIO is a non-profit organisation of professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, and science education experts devoted to public outreach and education. It is also an official training centre recognised by the Ministry of Education of Portugal. NUCLIO’s activities include: training teachers in the use of new technologies, promotion of real research in classroom, where students are introduced to the scientific methods using robotic telescopes and data mining astronomical databases, providing Astronomy and Astrophysics courses for teachers and the general public. In the recent years, NUCLIO gained important expertise in the use of serious games for science education and the integration of real science experiences in classroom environment, for example, the search for asteroids, the use of robotic telescopes, and so on.
In the Next-Lab project, NUCLIO is the National Expertise Centre in Portugal. Furthermore, NUCLIO plays a key role in conceptualising and structuring the courses and workshops that will be offered to the teachers.
EU-HOU with SalsaJ software and the SRT radio telescopes
NUCLIO is part of the Global Hands-on Universe consortium that unites hundreds of teachers and scientists from 15 countries in Europe and beyond with the purpose of creating a way for students to get excited by science, primarily through the use of astronomy.
The exercises developed by GHOU are designed to promote such active learning by giving students real astronomical data, and the tools to analyse it simply and easily in their own classroom. These exercises can be found here. The key to unlocking all this learning is the free software SalsaJ. This software is simple to install, runs on most systems, requires almost no on-site maintenance, and has been translated into many languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Greek, Portuguese, Swedish, Northern Sami, Arabic, Chinese).
Another key project of EU-HOU is the development of a network of small radio telescopes for education, enabling schools to explore the Milky Way through Internet, and IBSE pedagogical resources to be used in the classrooms. The worldwide radio telescope ALMA is starting operations and radio astronomy is entering a new golden age that will unveil the Universe as never before, a fantastic opportunity for widening formal and informal educational training and public involvement, in schools and through science centres and museums, for making a science impact on young people.
GTTP: training teachers worldwide
NUCLIO is the international coordinator of the Galileo Teacher Training Programme (GTTP). The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) provided an excellent opportunity to engage the formal education community in the excitement of astronomical discovery as a vehicle for improving the teaching of science in classrooms around the world. An incredibly rich store of useful astronomy resources is available for such an effort, much of it in digital form and freely available in the internet. However, experienced educators and outreach specialists identify a critical impediment: many teachers have a lack of training to understand these resources or use them effectively in their curricula.
To address this problem and to sustain the legacy of IYA2009, the IAU - in collaboration with the National Nodes and leaders in the field, such as the Global Hands-On Universe project, the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific – embarked on a unique global effort to empower teachers by developing the Galileo Teacher Training Programme (GTTP).
The GTTP goal is to maintain the worldwide network of "Galileo Ambassadors" and develop it further. These Ambassadors train "Galileo Teachers" in the effective use and transfer of astronomy education tools and resources into classroom science curricula. The Galileo Teachers are equipped to train other teachers in these methodologies, leveraging the work begun during IYA2009 in classrooms everywhere. Through workshops, online training tools and basic education kits, the products and techniques developed by this program can be adapted to reach locations with few resources of their own, as well as computer-connected areas that can take advantage of access to robotic optical and radio telescopes, webcams, astronomy exercises, cross-disciplinary resources, image processing and digital universes (web and desktop planetariums).