Space education takes off with $1m funding boost

worldglobeA space education program led by Flinders University that will allow 400 secondary students to determine a scientific issue and task an Airborne Research Australia aircraft to collect the data they need has been awarded almost $1 million through the Australian Space Research Program, announced by Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr.

The funding will also go toward professional learning for 40 teachers in Earth observation sciences over the next three years.

Known as Place and Space: Perspectives in Earth Observation, the program will be run by Flinders University’s Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century (science21) and Airborne Research Australia, the Department of Education and Children’s Services, SA Museum, Education Services Australia and the Northern Advanced Manufacturing Industries Group.

Science21 Director, Professor Martin Westwell said the aim of the pilot project was to increase the proportion of students who identify themselves as being able to take part in science and engineering careers in the Australian space industry and to create a body of science teacher champions of Earth systems science research.

“Place and Space has the potential to support schools to really innovate in science education and to use the opportunity created by the Research Project in the SACE to allow students to explore all kinds of aspects and issues in South Australia through scientific inquiry,” Professor Westwell said.

“We don’t know what research the students will do or what the answers are – we’re not going to dictate that. This project is all about developing the capacity within schools to use authentic research as a sophisticated way of learning both for the students and the teachers,” he said.

“This significant funding gives us a chance to really show what the teachers and students in South Australia can achieve, right at the cutting edge of both science and education.

“As we see South Australia’s space-related research and industries being re-energised through the Australian Space Research Program, a parallel reinvigoration of teachers and students can take place.”

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