Universe Awareness wins prize

The latest winner of a SPORE (Science Prize for Online Resources in Education from the American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS]) award is Universe Awareness (UNAWE). From the August 25, 2011 news item on Science Daily,

UNAWE is an international programme that uses the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire children aged 4-10 years, particularly those from an underprivileged background. Through astronomy, it aims to cultivate a sense of perspective, foster global citizenship and stimulate interest in science at a crucial age in a child’s development. “In all of its activities, UNAWE pays close attention to local cultures to help engage with young children and to meet the specific educational needs of the country,” says Carolina Ödman- Govender, International Project Manager for UNAWE between 2005 and 2010.

Here’s a little more about UNAWE and its beginnings (from the UNAWE Background page),

In 2004, Leiden University professor George Miley first began exploring the idea of setting up an astronomy programme to educate and inspire young children, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds. He had been awarded an Academy Professorship by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and decided to use part of the associated funding to explore the feasibility of setting up such a programme. With considerable support and encouragement from Claus Madsen at ESO [European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere] , a successful workshop was held in Germany and it was agreed that the programme was worth pursuing. Universe Awareness (UNAWE) was born.

Shortly afterwards, Carolina Ödman was appointed as the first UNAWE International Project Manager. In 2006, thanks to a grant provided by the Netherlands Minister of Education Culture and Science, Ms. van der Hoeven, the UNAWE International Office was founded at Leiden Observatory, the Netherlands. With the help of Sarah Levin as Media Coordinator, Ödman built UNAWE into a thriving global project, with a network of about 400 experts from 40 countries.

…  Later that year [2009], the European Union awarded a grant of 1.9 million euros to fund a 3-year project called European Universe Awareness (EU-UNAWE), which builds on the work of Universe Awareness (UNAWE). With this grant, EU-UNAWE is now being further developed in six selected countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and South Africa.

EU-UNAWE is endorsed by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and it is now an integral part of the IAU Strategic Plan 2010–2020, which is called Astronomy for the Developing World. This is an ambitious blueprint that aims to use astronomy to foster education and provide skills and competencies in science and technology throughout the world, particularly in developing countries.

The UNAWE site offers a number of resources including a template for creating ‘star’ dice, instructions on making a reflective telescope, drawing posters from NASA (US National Aeronautics and Space Administration), a Deadly Moons activity and  more.

The current UNAWE International Project Manager is Pedro Russo.

The last SPORE award I highlighted was the Ask a Biologist programme in my November 29, 2010 posting.

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  1. Pingback: Open Source Physics wins SPORE « FrogHeart

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