NUCLIO is a non-profitable association of professional astrophysicists and amateur astronomers devoted to public outreach and education. It is also an official training center recognized by the Ministry of Education of Portugal. NUCLIO’s activities include: training teachers in the use of new technologies, promotion of real research in classroom where students are introduced to the scientific methods using robotic telescopes and data mining astronomical databases, providing Astronomy and Astrophysics courses for teachers and the general public. In the last years NUCLIO gained important expertise in the use of serious games for science education and the integration of real science experiences in classroom environment, for example, the search for asteroids, the use of robotic telescopes, etc.
In Go-Lab, NUCLIO is involved in the WP2 (Go-Lab federation of online labs) contributing to the development of applications built upon real research examples, development of citizen science platforms for students using real data and the development of serious game applications for training and background construction of participants. NUCLIO will also contribute to the community building and teacher support under the WP6 and will be in charge of the national implementation of the project in Portugal in scope of the WP7.
NUCLIO is part of the EU-HOU consortium that joints hundreds of teachers and scientists from 15 countries with the purpose of creating a way for students to get excited by science, primarily through the use of astronomy. Astronomy is one of the most popular subjects for students of all ages, and the chance to use real astronomical data to investigate volcanoes and craters on Mars or the moons of Jupiter, to discover a new planet outside our solar system, or to weigh a galaxy, can engage our students in the wonders of scientific discovery, and excite the natural scientist contained in all people young and old alike.
Research in how people learn has shown that active learning is the best way to create true engagement of students in a subject, and has also been shown to lead to better understanding and retention of material than traditional lecture-style instruction. The exercises developed by EU-HOU are designed to promote such active learning by giving student real astronomical data, and the tools to analyze it simply and easily in their own classroom. These exercises can be found here.
The key to unlocking all this learning is the free software SalsaJ (download here). This software is simple to install, runs on most systems (Windows, MacOS, and most flavors of Linux), requires almost no on-site maintenance, and has been translated into many languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Greek, Portuguese, Swedish, Northern Sami, Arabic, Chinese).
Another key project for EU-HOU is the development of a network of small radio telescopes for education, enabling schools to explore the Milky Way through Internet, and IBSE pedagogical resources to be used in the classrooms. The worldwide radio telescope ALMA is starting operations and radio astronomy in entering a new golden age that will unveil the Universe as never before, a fantastic opportunity for widening formal and informal educational training and public involvement, in schools and through science centers and museums, for making a science impact on young people.
NUCLIO is the international coordinator of the Galileo Teacher Training Programme (GTTP). The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) provided an excellent opportunity to engage the formal education community in the excitement of astronomical discovery as a vehicle for improving the teaching of science in classrooms around the world. An incredibly rich store of useful astronomy resources is available for such an effort, much of it in digital form and freely available on the internet. However, experienced educators and outreach specialists identify a critical impediment: many teachers have a lack on training to understand these resources or use them effectively in their curricula.
To address this problem and to sustain the legacy of IYA2009, the IAU - in collaboration with the National Nodes and leaders in the field such as the Global Hands-On Universe project, the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific – embarked on a unique global effort to empower teachers by developing the Galileo Teacher Training Programme (GTTP).
The GTTP goal is to create a worldwide network of "Galileo Ambassadors" by 2012. These Ambassadors will train "Galileo Teachers" in the effective use and transfer of astronomy education tools and resources into classroom science curricula. The Galileo Teachers will be equipped to train other teachers in these methodologies, leveraging the work begun during IYA2009 in classrooms everywhere. Through workshops, online training tools and basic education kits, the products and techniques developed by this program can be adapted to reach locations with few resources of their own, as well as computer-connected areas that can take advantage of access to robotic optical and radio telescopes, webcams, astronomy exercises, cross-disciplinary resources, image processing and digital universes (web and desktop planetariums).