2nd successful COMENIUS-funded Teacher Training Session - Cardiff, UK

Published on Thursday, 03 September 2009 00:00
Written by Sarah Roberts
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The second COMENIUS-funded EU-HOU training session was held in Cardiff, UK this August, hosted by the UK partners, the Faulkes Telescope Project and was a huge success for all attendees.

In total, 26 teachers from the 15 partner countries attended the session held at Cardiff University in Wales. The days consisted of a number of hands-on workshops and talks aimed at showing the educators freely available astronomical resources which can be used in their classrooms back home to help stimulate their pupil’s interest and enthusiasm in science.

Talks included the use of robotic telescopes in the classroom, both optical and radio, how to use the Virtual Observatory for education and how to use the multilingual SalsaJ software to analyse astronomical data.

Teachers were then given the chance to use SalsaJ to measure the mass of Jupiter and the sizes of craters on the Moon, plot a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for an open cluster of stars, and look for new planets. They were also given the chance to do even more hands-on work, by making some astronomical instruments!

Using the SPICA telescope kit (available from http://www.orbys.co.jp/kolkit/), teachers made working refracting telescopes in 30 minutes! Unfortunately, the cloudy Welsh weather prevented any observing from taking place, although we were able to see birds on the nearby roof tops!

Next, teachers used cardboard tubes, CDs and a bit of glue and sellotape, to make working spectroscopes and even managed to use a bit of Welsh sunshine to see the spectrum produced when looking at the sky.
Out of lessons, the teachers enjoyed a traditional Welsh banquet at nearby Caldicot Castle, with musical entertainment from the serving maids and men. The wine flowed and the food was plentiful (although in traditional Medieval manner, only a dagger was available to use for cutlery!).

The next evening saw a not-so-traditional Welsh meal in Cardiff Bay, at a Chinese and Thai restaurant. Delegates were able to walk around the Bay, taking in the various tourist sites, such as the Norwegian Church, where children’s author Roald Dahl was christened, and the sustainable Welsh Assembly building, built from traditional Welsh materials and heated by the Earth under the Cardiff Bay dock!

All in all, a very enjoyable time was had by all attendees of the teacher training workshop, both teachers and trainers alike. The keen and enthusiastic response shown by all the delegates promises to be a great result for spreading their new found knowledge out into schools and to teachers in their home countries. 

 To see the various exercises carried out during the training session, see the 'Exercises' page on this website.