ASTRO 3D is committed to inspiring students to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Attracting STEM students into astronomy and training them for large-scale use of the next generation of telescopes and super computers is critical for maintaining Australian leadership on the international stage.
We will attract students into STEM and astronomy by providing more interaction between professional ASTRO 3D astronomers and education providers. We will develop new teacher education programs, including high-quality astronomy teaching materials, which will significantly impact the quality of science education within the Australian F-10 Science Curriculum.
ASTRO 3D will be rolling out the popular CAASTRO in the Classroom program nationally in the early years of the centre. The program currently engages school students with research scientists and PhD students in a virtual meeting room, utilising video conferencing, live streaming and Q&A sessions, as well as free classroom resources. Sessions will include curriculum-focused astronomy lectures, short research presentations, discussions around a particular aspect of astronomy or physics or forums on life as a scientist.
ASTRO 3D will be rolling out the Telescopes in Schools program to Victoria, NSW, ACT and Western Australia during the first 3 years of the Centre. Currently run out of the University of Melbourne and privately funded, the program is targeted at high school student in Years 7 to 9 and provides selected schools with a 12-inch computerised telescope and all necessary gear to observe the night sky, image the object and conduct small research projects. These telescopes are large enough to view deep sky objects such as nebulae and far away galaxies or zoom in on a crater on the moon. Students engage with an astrophysicist about their research and then learn how to set up and drive the telescope to conduct their own research projects.
As part of our Indigenous Engagement activities, ASTRO 3D will engage indigenous schools in our Telescopes in Schools program. For these schools, we will include a new program to explore how different cultures view the night sky.
The 2016-2025 Australian Astronomy Decadal Plan identifies a significant need for effective training of teachers and for implementation of astronomy materials within the new Australian F-10 Science Curriculum. Teacher training programs, including high quality astronomy teaching materials, can significantly impact the quality of science education. To this end, ASTRO 3D will include large-scale engagement of astronomers in teacher professional development and resource development at the primary and secondary levels (K-12). This program will begin with teachers from our ASTRO 3D in the Classroom and Telescopes in Schools networks and expand to schools in Victoria, NSW, ACT and Western Australia. We will develop movies, tutorials and Q&A sessions (both online and in person) to train teachers to use astronomy educational materials in their classrooms.