Cardiff University (CU) is recognised as one of Britain's leading teaching and research-intensive universities. CU is a member of the Russell Group and has approximately 20,000 undergraduate and 8000 postgraduate students, 6000 staff and an annual turnover of around €525M – making it the 12th largest university in the UK. World-leading research is conducted across every academic school. The University is among the top 5 in the UK in 14 research areas, and the top 10 in a further 11 areas. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), CU ranked 5th of all UK universities, and the School of Physics and Astronomy ranked 6th in the UK.
Cardiff attracted on average €70 million under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission for the co-funding of research projects, and continues to seek research grants and contracts under Horizon 2020. Cardiff’s Research, and Innovation Services department ensures that the academic community sustains strong links with business, industry, Government and other partners across Europe and beyond.
The Faulkes Telescope Project (FTP) is based within SEM at CU, and is an education partner of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT). It currently provides web-based real-time access to 1,500 hours of observing time on two 2-metre telescopes located in Hawaii and Australia. This telescope time is dedicated to education and public outreach. The telescopes are available for teachers to be used as part of their classroom and extra-curricular activities, and are fully supported by a range of educational materials and a team of educators and astronomers. The FTP operates a wide range of educational programs with a strong emphasis on teacher training and engaging students in “real science”, often through Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE). Its philosophy is to actively engage learners, making them participants in a range of astronomical research projects, ranging from observations of the solar system to distant galaxies. Teacher training (both face-to-face and online) is a core component of the FTP educational philosophy.
In Go-Lab, the CU team is involved in the Go-Lab federation of online labs (WP2), Community Building and Support (WP6), and in the Implementation (WP7). CU will offer limited access to the two Faulkes Telescopes in Hawaii and Australia (and eventually the wider LCOGT network), to scientific data, and to a series of interactive applications that will be integrated into classroom practice. CU will act as the National Coordinator of the project activities in the UK.
The Discover the Cosmos (DtC) project is an FP7-funded European collaborative programme consisting of 15 partners from across the EU and US, who are involved in research infrastructures, e-Science environments and applications, and dissemination. The project aims to introduce innovative ways to encourage young people into science and scientific careers by engaging teachers and students in e-Science through the use of e-Infrastructures and e-Science applications. This is being done by demonstrating a series of e-Science initiatives through master classes, summer schools, science contests, science festivals and exhibitions along with teacher training activities. The impact of these activities to the teachers and students will be evaluated and a guide of good practise for future use will be developed at the end of the project. A legacy of the DtC project will be a portal, where online collaboration between teachers across the partner countries and beyond will be possible and encouraged.
In the DtC project, FTP has developed a number of Inquiry-Based Science Education resources to be used by the teachers in the classroom. They include instructions on how to use robotic telescope data for specific projects (e.g. the lifecycle of stars), as well as using online simulators to carry out investigations on topics ranging from galaxy evolution to creating impact craters on Earth. In addition to these classroom resources, FTP developed a set of guidelines and support materials for teachers, instructing them on how to use the various e-Science applications and infrastructures offered by the DtC consortium. As part of the DtC project, FTP has run over 40 events for both teachers and students in 15 months, reaching over 1,400 students, 400 teachers and education/outreach specialists, and 280 astronomers.