astroEDU: IAU’s open-access educational platform announces new editorial team and major update

April 04, 2022

Are you interested in a hands-on exploration of black holes for your middle school students? Or looking for a way of demonstrating the size of the Sun relative to that of the Earth, suitable for elementary students? In those and many other cases, astroEDU, the IAU’s educational activity portal, has you covered: with quality-controlled, engaging, structured activities suitable for pupils of different ages, available online for free in an easily accessible format.

astroEDU is an open-access platform which aims to improve astronomy education resources through peer-review. The platform was founded by Pedro Russo and Edward Gomez in 2013 and endorsed by the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development. Since then, more than 100 resources have been published and distributed on the English and Italian editions of astroEDU. Since May 2021, astroEDU has been operating under the auspices of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in Heidelberg.

Now, in 2022, astroEDU is picking up the pace: with a change in leadership, on the foundation of new technology to support the editorial process, and with an overhaul that has created the technical foundation of creating additional multilingual editions of the site.

From 1 April 2022, Livia Giacomini will take over as Editor-in-Chief of the international edition of astroEDU. Livia is on staff at the OAE Center Italy and the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF). At the same time, Giulio Mazzolo, Freelance science communication manager, will start in the new role of Associate Editor of astroEDU.

“There is nothing like astronomy to fascinate new generations, teach them humility and courage, help them develop critical thinking and learn the importance of asking the right questions, before finding the right answers.This is what we want to do with astroEDU, we want to select, build and distribute the best activities related to astronomy among a worldwide community of students, teachers, parents, communicators who collaborate all together. Using astronomy and its fascination as an excuse to talk all together about our life, about our planet, about science, technology, culture and much more,” says Livia Giacomini.

Under Giacomini’s lead, astroEDU will continue to do what it does best: making the best science activities, particularly those with an astronomical, earth or space science focus, accessible to educators around the world; providing an open-access platform for peer-reviewed science education activities; providing a platform for educators to discover, review, distribute, improve, and remix educational activities.

It has always been the aim of astroEDU to provide high quality activities for the international community. In the last few months the astroEDU website has undergone a substantial overhaul, which will facilitate the creation of multilingual versions in the future.

“The more people we reach, the more effective education can be. This is why sharing activities in multiple languages will be a major asset to fulfil astroEDU’s educational mission.”, said Giulio Mazzolo, who also underscored that “Astronomy is an experience able to connect us all, making it a subject particularly well suited to global educational endeavours.”

Markus Pössel, director of the OAE, adds: “Making available excellent educational resources is a key part of the mission of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education. We are glad to be able to support the astroEDU portal, and are looking forward to growing the collection of interactive activities. Astronomy is the ideal ‘gateway science,’ and activities like those available on astroEDU make for a particularly engaging way of learning about our universe.”

“We have made technical improvements to the publishing system and are now in a good position to add activities in additional languages,” says Edward Gomez, astroEDU co-founder. “Having educational activities available in numerous local languages is the key to making our resources available to teachers world-wide.”

Last but not least, astroEDU has been able to streamline its editorial process:, with the support of both the OAE and Heidelberg University Library, we have adopted the Open Journal System for handling the editorial process. This will make it easier to manage and coordinate reviews and changes to activities throughout the peer-review process.

astroEDU is run by volunteers and we look forward to welcoming new authors, reviewers and translators, as we enter into a new chapter for astronomy education resources.

More Information
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together almost 12 000 active professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

The IAU Office of Astronomy for Education is hosted at Haus der Astronomie (HdA), managed by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. The OAE’s mission is to support and coordinate astronomy education by astronomy researchers and educators, aimed at primary or secondary schools worldwide. HdA’s hosting the OAE was made possible through the support of the German foundations Klaus Tschira Stiftung and Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung.

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