Universe in the Classroom: using robotic telescopes in primary schools
Keywords:Primary Education, Science Education, Teacher Training, Role Models, Education Resources, Robotic Telescopes, Astronomy
Universe in the Classroom is a science engagement programme that provides under-served Welsh primary schools with improved teaching methods and innovative tools, including access to robotic telescopes through the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO), to modernise and enhance the way science is taught to young children aged 4-11 years. As a result, the programme has engaged with 133 primary schools from 21 of the 22 Welsh counties, 47% of whom receive below average budget per student per year. In addition to the provision of highquality resources, Universe in the Classroom offers teacher training workshops to improve teachers’ scientific knowledge and confidence, with 75% stating improved confidence using science resources post-training event. The programme has also engaged with of 22,083 schoolchildren, successfully improving their understanding of the Universe and challenging perceptions of scientists, with an additional 10% of girls describing scientists as female after a workshop hosted by our diverse and enthusiastic team of undergraduate role models. Furthermore, the number of complex scientific concepts discussed by students tripled postworkshop. Although we identified several potential deterrents affecting the uptake of robotic telescopes in primary school classrooms, these were addressed by the programme and 25% of teachers claim to have used the telescopes in their schools, with an additional 75% stating their school would find a second LCO account useful.