Heidelberg Center for Latin America
Short portrait and history of the teaching project “Astronomy at schools in Chile”
On 18 October 2010, the following short press release was published in the alumni magazine of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), "The DAAD has opened a German-Chilean Center of Excellence in Research and Teaching in Santiago, Chile. The new center expands the Heidelberg Center for Latin America – a sort of external graduate school of the University of Heidelberg (the Heidelberg Center for Latin America was established in the Chilean capital in 2002) – to cover four disciplines, namely astronomy, earth sciences, medical physics and medical informatics. "
Since astronomy occupies an important place in Chilean schools (i.e. in the school subject "Ciencias de la Tierra y el Universo"), it was obvious that this academic collaboration should also include the teaching of astronomy, which is how the Haus der Astronomie (HdA) Heidelberg came to be involved in the project.
Since then, during six trips, HdA employees have organized 18 two-day teacher training courses on astronomy at nine different locations in Chile, which were attended by a total of around 1,000 Chilean teachers. During five two-week visits to the Haus der Astronomie, thus far 15 Chilean teachers have been trained in teaching astronomy. These teachers will go on to be part of the Chilean Network of Astronomy Teachers. Currently being set up, the network’s aim is to help shape teacher training and increasingly support and further develop school astronomy teaching in Chile. The "round table", which is now a feature of every training course in Chile, shows that the Chilean teachers' network has matured into the field of astronomy and developed from a group of individuals to a real team.
From the very beginning, Spanish-language didactic materials (now also used by some teachers from the Chilean teacher network) have been created, which are publicly accessible via a cloud (http://sdrv.ms/1i4JWVV).
In the coming years, the focus will be on the expansion, further development and promotion of the Chilean teachers' network. From 2019 to 2023, every year three Chilean teachers will be sent to the HdA for two weeks to study astronomy didactics.
The teacher training courses in Chile (organized and led by the HdA), which will likewise be held annually from 2020 to 2024, will also serve to strengthen the specialist and further training competence of the teachers' network and increase the profile and team spirit of the network. Moreover, German astronomy teachers from the HdA network of partner schools still have the opportunity to take part for the purpose of personal training and forming direct contacts with astronomy teachers from the Chilean network.