AREA 9: Outreach
P.I.: José Maza
CATA has carried out a vigorous policy of education and public outreach, implementing many initiatives on Education and Public Outreach. CATA has funded important activities directed to the general public, high-school students and their teachers. Among the main activities implemented and supported by the Center we mention the followings.
Popular Science Books.
One of the highlights in outreach of CATA was the creation of a series of four popular science books written by Center members targeted for high-school students and educated general public. The booklets, published by Ediciones B, are:
“Hijos de las Estrellas” by María Teresa Ruiz
“Mundos Lejanos” by Dante Minitti
“Con ojos de Gigantes” by Felipe Barrientos and Sebastián López
“Supernovas” by Mario Hamuy and José Maza.
The booklet by María Teresa Ruiz has sold more than 5,000 copies (three editions 2,000 copies each), a remarkable and unexpected achievement. The other three have also been received with great appraisal and sold some 2,500 copies each. In total some 12,500 copies has been sold. The International Year of Astronomy along with the many popular lectures offered by the authors during 2009 are responsible for the editorial success of the series.
Center member José Maza prepared and published a new edition, by “Ediciones B”, of his introductory astronomy book “Astronomía Contemporánea” written for high school children, which was originally published in 1988 and out of print for at least a decade. In the first two years the book sold 1,700 copies, an excellent number for the Chilean book market.
By the end of the 2009, Center member María Teresa Ruiz published a popular book in astronomy which in addition to astronomical images and explanations contains poems by Margarita Schultz. Entitled “Voces del Universo /Voices from the Universe” it was published by “Ocho Libros Editores Ltda” in a bilingual edition Spanish/English. It was released in January 2010. Presented in a big format it is a beautiful “Coffee Table Book”.
María Teresa Ruiz, in collaboration with Margarita Schultz, wrote an innovative book of astronomy designed for children aged 8 to 14 entitled: “EL Universo: Ciencia y Ficción. ¡Qué (no) te cuenten cuentos!”, published by Confin Editores at the end of 2011. The book has been celebrated as an excellent addition to the popular science books for children. The book was presented at the Observatory at Cerro Calán and many people attended including former President of Chile Mr. Ricardo Lagos, President of the Senate Dr. Guido Girardi and Vice-President of the Senate Mr. Juan Pablo Letelier.
Training of high school science teachers.
During 2010 high school science teacher Víctor Salinas was hired to analyzed basic school and high school science curriculum relative to astronomy. He then prepared material to train science teachers in astronomy. PhD student Paula Lopez was responsible for preparing part of the content.
The training of teachers is carried out at Cerro Calán Observatory. Teachers coming from all over the country, with the support of CATA, gather for a week at Calán where they receive lectures, practical sessions, observing sessions and a large quantity of material including a special booklet printed for them. So far fifty science teachers, coming from Arica to Punta Arenas, have been trained in two workshops. In addition we created a facebook “Astronomia Educativa 2.0” where all science teachers that have attended the workshops are participating and sharing experiences.
Astronomy in Public Schools.
For visits to high school students and to grammar students Center members prepared power point presentations and small booklets, 16 pages long each, containing the material of the lectures.
During 2010 CATA implemented an outreach program, called Project Carina, with the goal of spreading astronomy in public schools in the (poor) neighborhoods of Santiago. Three portable telescopes were purchased, – two Schmidt Cassegrain of 8 inches and a refractor of 4 inches of aperture – which are used for star parties at the different schools. Science teacher Victor Salinas delivers lectures during the week and on Friday evening we take the portable telescopes to the schools to have a star party with the students and their parents. The project included Puente Alto, San Bernardo, Curacaví, María Pinto, Melipilla, Lampa, Rungue, Huertos Familiares, etc. For this project we hired Edgardo Cosgrove a high school science teacher with experience with telescopes – he worked at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory for three decades as night assistant - to operates the telescopes of Project Carina. So far 1,570 students have attended the lectures and parties. On every school visited two astronomy books were given as a present for the library.
During 2011, CATA contacted “Corporación de Desarrollo Pro Til Til” y “Corporación de Desarrollo Pro Aconcagua” in order to develop a project at Til Til and another at Aconcagua oriented to students of 4th to 8th year in basic schools (kids in the age range 9 to 13). Two different projects were presented for funding to EXPLORA CONICYT and both were approved for 2012. EXPLORA is funding them at the level of US$25,000 each and Pro Til Til and Pro Aconcagua at the level of US$7,000 each. In addition the car company SUBARU is supporting both projects by lending a vehicle SUBARU Forester2 at least for year 2012 and 2013. Both projects add up to 100 trips to localities some 50 to 80 miles north of Santiago.