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Universe Awareness: one place in the Universe Cornerstone Project Carolina Ödman

Task Group Members: N/A

Number of people reached by IYA2009:N/A Budget: N/A Sources: N/A

General Overview Universe Awareness (UNAWE) exists through the tremendous participation of an extremely diverse group of people worldwide who have brought a sense of wonder about the universe to hundreds of thousands of young children all around the world, either working with communities directly, or through teacher training programmes. We are proud of the geographical and cultural diversity represented in the network. It demonstrates the universality of the vision of Universe Awareness – and of the IYA — that being exposed to the beauty and scale of the Universe from a very young age stimulates a sense of awe and wonder, curiosity about the natural world and understanding and tolerance towards others. The cornerstone programme is supported by an International Office based at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, which serves a community of professionals and volunteers. It provides coordination support and networking to the UNAWE members through various means, including its organisation website (, a collection of international, free and multilingual educational resources ( and the organisation of workshops. As a programme UNAWE became officially affiliated with the IAU and forms part of the Union’s decadal development strategy5. Representatives of the UNAWE community came together at several international events during 2009, including the Opening Ceremony of the IYA2009 in Paris and the following IAU Symposium ‘The Rôle of Astronomy in Society and Culture’ (January – most UNAWE countries), the ‘2nd International Meeting of Astronomy and Astronautics’ in Campos de Goytacazes, Brazil (April — Brazil, Uruguay and other South American countries), the ‘European week of Astronomy and Space Science’ in Hatfield, UK (April – most European countries), Building the Scientific Mind, Cairo, Egypt (May – Egypt, Indonesia, India), the 4th International UNAWE Workshop organised in conjunction with the IAU General Assembly in Rio de Janeiro Brazil (August – most UNAWE countries). These events were crucial opportunities for UNAWE members to meet each other and exchange experiences. UNAWE Also partnered with other programmes, such as the Galileo Teacher Training Programme (provision of resources) and the Galileomobile. We should however emphasize that most work took place in each country on the ground, and was carried out by professionals and volunteers engaging with young children, teachers and families either as specific programmes or as an integrated part of large initiatives. Those initiatives are too numerous to mention in this report but we invite the reader to look for those activities in national reports or to contact UNAWE directly for further information. A few examples of activities include: • A DVD of cartoons, stories and songs about the Universe with a booklet for teachers produced by UNAWE Belgium. Funds were raised to distribute 1500 of those in primary schools across the country.


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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Award-winning astronomical art workshops organised independently by Deidre Kelleghan (‘Deadly Moons’, ‘Astronomy mural at O’Connells Boys National School’), Miruna Popescu (Armagh, Northern Ireland, ‘Over us All is the SElfsame Sky’) and Blackrock Castle Observatory (Cork, ‘Capture the Cosmos’) across the Irish island. The latter led to children’s artworks being auctioned, with the funds raised used to buy a telescope for UNAWE Tanzania. This gave UNAWE Tanzania the necessary momentum to establish a national programme that continues to grow. 43 Teacher training workshops held in Venezuela, which involved more than 1500 teachers and reached well over 60,000 children and led to 10 regional astronomy festivals Specific UNAWE activities for children at science festivals in China, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Palestine, South Africa, Turkey and many other countries. The development of a UNAWE programme for social integration in inner cities in Germany with child development specialists UNAWE Uruguay built on long-term and successful efforts to include an astronomy curriculum for primary schools to be implemented nationally The development of an astronomy curriculum for primary schools to be implemented nationally in Uruguay Astronomy and science awareness programmes in the major cities in India as well as in rural areas in Tamil Nadu reaching hundreds of thousands of children. Popular lecture series in Guatemala A travelling ‘Astro-Bus’ reaching a large fraction of rural primary school in every province in Tunisia as well as numerous teacher training workshops and curriculum development activities. A book of traditional astronomical stories from the Spanish-speaking world produced by UNAWE Spain was translated into several other languages. A CD of traditional Spanish music with astronomical lyrics (traditional and modern) was produced to accompany the book. A national programme was established in the Netherlands with professional coordination and integration into the education system via partner organisations and ministerial support. A number of articles were published about UNAWE, including a feature article in the French magazine ‘l’Astronomie’. Educational resources translated by the Slovenian National IYA task group Astronomy plays at a children’s theatre festival in Serbia Multicultural astronomy workshops at science festivals in Italy with foreign astronomers etc.

Involvement Statistics (2009 only) Preliminary remark This list is not exhaustive and while the openness of UNAWE is one of the reasons for its success, it makes it difficult to be aware of everything that takes place globally. Moreover, some countries have developed their own UNAWE programme as a cornerstone without going through the International Office. We hope that such laudable initiatives are reported in their respective national reports. We apologise in advance to those whose efforts are not mentioned here, but wish to express our appreciation of their engagement and encourage them to contact the International Office so that we can give them the visibility they deserve.

Country International Office Belgium Benin Brazil Chile China Colombia Egypt Ethiopia France Germany Guatemala

Number of people/organisations involved* 2 6 people and 4 organisations 9 people and 21 schools 15 people and 4 organisations 2 6 people and 5 schools 20 people and 8 organisations 9 people 12 people and 4 organisations 1 person 14 people 10 people

Full time ** 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Paid 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.5 0

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Iceland India Indonesia Iran Ireland Italy Kenya Malta Mexico Mozambique Netherlands Palestine Portugal Romania Serbia Slovenia South Africa Spain Sri Lanka Tanzania Tunisia Turkey United Kingdom United States Uruguay Venezuela

4 people 39 people and 4 organisations 17 people 3 people and 1 organisation 25 people and 15 organisations 3 people and 1 organisation 5 people, 4 schools, 2 sponsors 7 people and two schools 1 person 4 people and two schools 8 people and 8 organisations 14 people and 2 organisations 2 people 15 people and 4 organisations 17 people 12 people 4 people 47 people 2 people and 1 organisation 5 people 5 people and 1 organisation 10 people and 1 organisation 7 people and 1 organisation 3 people, 3 schools, 1 organisation 4 people 30 people, 9 organisations, 51 schools

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 (equiv.)

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 (equiv.)

*: Note that the number of people/schools/organisations involved is a minimum estimate. In most countries more people are involved so this number is a poor representation of the scale of the various programmes. **: Many people dedicate their paid time to UNAWE, but this in-kind contribution is not accounted for in this table. Others take part on a voluntary basis.

Impressions from UNAWE Activities Around the World

UNAWE Teacher Training in the Netherlands

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UNAWE activity in Tunisia

UNAWE Activity in Venezuela

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Science Kidz Festival in South Africa

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Science Kidz Festival in South Africa

Sun activity in Tunisia

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Astronomy cinema in Tunisia

UNAWE 4th Workshop in Brazil

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UNAWE activity in Romania. Credit: Sabin Iacob

UNAWE in Tanzania

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Brigada Galileo in Uruguay

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Brigada Galileo in Uruguay

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Brigada Galileo in Uruguay

Travelling Exhibition Museo Ciencia y Juego in Colombia

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Travelling Exhibition Museo Ciencia y Juego in Colombia

UNAWE in Tanzania

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Theatre in Mozambique

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Sidewalk Astronomy in Romania. Credit: Sabin Iacob

Mural OConnells in Ireland

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UNAWE Activity in Egypt

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Drawing from an UNAWE Activity in Ireland

Challenges UNAWE faces two main challenges: the sustainability of certain national programmes and formal evaluation. In view of the diversity in formats and scales of the programmes it is extremely difficult to estimate the number of children, schools, families and teachers reached, let alone evaluate the short-term impact of the programme. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback and the commitment by a number of organisations and governments to their national programmes demonstrates this. Unfortunately we cannot be sure that any negative feedback would have reached us and are not in a position to monitor if certain groups have ‘fallen off the map’ or why. The hope is that these programmes will have a long-term impact on the children reached and their communities and that UNAWE is embedded enough within our partner organisations to continue on similar scales in the future.

Legacy The programme benefited from a coordination office that provided time and support to coordinate, communicate and promote national programmes. The office was also active in raising funds, which will ensure that Universe Awareness will continue beyond 2009 and 2010.

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IYA2009 Universe Awareness Report  

Universe Awareness Section of the IYA2009 Final Report

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