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COSPAR to launch new space education programme

ISC Affiliated Body, the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) is pleased to announce the launch of an ambitious series of space science education projects through its Panel on Education, starting with participation in an Erasmus+ programme.

COSPAR and the Erasmus+ Education Programme

COSPAR’s participation in an Erasmus+ programme on education is part of the COSPAR
Panel on Education’s new approach to its mission of developing “means and media to
encourage and spread space-related education”. The recent successful proposal for this
Erasmus+ programme on cooperation partnerships in school education, coordinated by
the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), marks the start of this new approach.

The EXpeditionary Program for Learning OppoRtunities in Analog Space Exploration
(EXPLORE) is a 36-month project—starting 1 September 2023—to introduce a new trend
of activities engaging students in space exploration experiences that meet the requirements of their STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics)
curriculum. EXPLORE will invite students to engage in activities similar to existing analog
missions that simulate Moon or Mars environments. Educators will receive training to
deliver curriculum content and improve their knowledge of digital solutions, as well as
student-centred, inclusive, equitable and accessible methodologies while implementing
the project.

EXPLORE will produce a kit that will encourage students to embrace an exploratory
mission to Mars. Educators will receive training and support to adapt this kit to the
curricula and conduct classroom involvement in the preparation of the missions. A group
of selected students will visit a planetary surface analog site where they will simulate an
international space mission and collaborate with peers and professionals from
participating countries.

Students will have the opportunity to learn about space exploration and its importance
in our daily lives, understand the importance of preserving the Earth’s environment with
hands-on experience, improve their digital skills, become problem solvers, learn to
collaborate, and get acquainted with innovative digital solutions. Educators will be
introduced to innovative student-centred methodologies that facilitate the integration
of digital content into the STEAM curriculum.

EXPLORE will be coordinated by the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF), with the active
participation of COSPAR, NUCLIO, Ellinogermaniki Agogi and BIOSKY. At the heart of the COSPAR Panel on Education’s new initiatives is a move to enhance teacher training. Efforts to bring space research to educators and trainers will be stepped up, by expanding the teacher training programme during the biennial COSPAR Scientific
Assembly, by including this opportunity in the COSPAR Symposia, held in alternate years
to the Assembly, and by forming partnerships with organisations such as the
International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the Global Hands-On Universe (G-HOU).

“We are looking forward to including new activities within the COSPAR community that will address the Committee’s future sustainability, influence, and impact within the international space sector. It is my firm belief that focusing on the new generation of scientists and researchers, providing support, opportunities, and capacity building in space-developing countries is beneficial to all.”

Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund, COSPAR President

“A generation of pioneering space researchers is retiring. COSPAR places great emphasis on enabling the next generation to reap the benefits of the heavy investments and efforts conducted in the space sector by a steadily growing number of actors, public and private. It is vital that this opening new age of space exploration and astronomy is conducted in an ethical and sustainable manner, allowing both scientific exploration and use of celestial bodies. This approach also applies to Earth observation from space, a critical aspect of the fight against climate change. Capacity Building of countries accessing the space field is crucial, as is the education and training of young researchers and teachers, in order to better address these issues, and inform the public and the decision-makers.”

Dr Jean-Claude Worms, The Executive Director of COSPAR

“The next astronauts setting foot on the Moon or Mars are probably sitting in a classroom somewhere around the world. The space industry is blooming, and jobs related to this important field are become more and more relevant. COSPAR’s Panel on Education aims to bring this reality closer to the students’ learning experiences. EXPLORE will be the first of many new ideas and partnerships that will put COSPAR at the centre stage for Space Education”

Rosa Doran, Chair of COSPAR’s Panel on Education


The COSPAR activity that is particularly relevant to this ERASMUS+ educational project is developed by the Panel on Education. The COSPAR Panel on Education, under the dynamic Chair Rosa Doran, aims to adopt a more active approach towards its growth and impact within COSPAR, to broaden its target audience from educators to a whole-school approach, involving all members of the schools and their local communities, to reach out to policy makers and to guarantee a deeper involvement of its members towards a common goal: generating greater awareness of the importance of space science and how it is already impacting society.

The Panel on Education works on the development of means and appropriate media for encouraging and spreading space-related education. The Panel meets during education targeted sessions at Assemblies or other events and supports relevant educational initiatives or entities outside of Assemblies. It works with COSPAR Scientific Commission Chairs, Panels, and other interested parties to identify the audience to whom the outreach and education is aimed, whether primary and secondary schools, universities, the general public via journalistic media, students, and especially underprivileged students in countries where space-related activities do not exist.

The Panel seeks to identify how to make educational tools and media available, and it explores possible links to and interactions with already established educational programs on topics related to research areas covered by COSPAR. It seeks to identify funding opportunities within certain countries for education and outreach work, and sets up and maintains websites or other relevant communication tools.

The Panel also establishes links and strategic partnerships and alliances, for example with UNESCO, so that its activities can be supported without unnecessary duplication. The four Officers in charge of this Panel, and the very large body of volunteers (both teachers and scientists) working to support its activities and events have extensive experience of developing international educational projects, including EU funded programmes, in particular ERASMUS+.

Contact: COSPAR Communications, Ms Leigh FERGUS: [email protected]

COSPAR, the Committee on Space Research, was created in 1958, at the dawn of the space age, under the aegis of the International Council of Scientific Unions, now the International Science Council (ISC). COSPAR’s objectives are to promote on an international level scientific research in space, with emphasis on the exchange of results, information and opinions, and to provide a forum, open to all scientists, for the discussion of problems affecting space research. In its first years of existence as an entity that ignores political considerations and views all questions solely from the scientific standpoint, COSPAR played an important role as an open bridge between East and West for cooperation in space. When this role became less prominent with the end of the Cold War, COSPAR focused its objectives on the progress of all kinds of research carried out with the use of space means.

Image by NASA

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