When I was young, I spent a lot of time reading a book called 365 Things to Do. It taught me a lot about science. With it, I learnt how to make periscopes, traffic signals and radios. I learnt about electricity, electromagnetic waves and stars. The world of science excited me.
In 2010, I decided to pursue a Master's degree in Astronomy and Science-Based Business (SBB) at Leiden University. It was a big change from my previous work as head of an on academic editing for non-native speakers of English. The SBB arm of the programme involves a 23-week internship, and I wanted to find an organization that works in the field of science education. I was first introduced to the EU Universe Awareness (EU-UNAWE) programme by my Astronomy study advisor.
After a discussion with the EU-UNAWE International Project Manager, Pedro Russo, we decided on a project. I would define a framework for the production and distribution of an EU-UNAWE educational activity kit about the universe. The project, Universe in a Box, was designed to explain the difficult and sometimes abstract concepts of astronomy to young children (4 to 10 years). We would do this by providing practical activities along with the materials and models required to do them.
The UNAWE International Office itself was an inspiring place to work. Along with my main project, I participated in a number of other projects and activities. In March 2012 I attended an EU-UNAWE workshop titled Astronomy to Inspire and Educate Young Children. At the 67th Dutch Astronomy Conference I presented a talk on UNAWE with the aim of reaching student ambassadors from the Netherlands. I developed a mock-up for a scale Solar System stencil. This product is currently under development.
During the Transit of Venus (June 2012) I helped to organise an educational project in Timor-Leste in South-East Asia. This project was the largest scientific event ever organised in Timor-Leste, attended by 3800 people, and it was the first time astronomy had been taught in the country since they declared their independence 10 years before.
This internship was an extremely enlightening experience, it presented many opportunities to learn about astronomy education for young children on a global scale. It has opened a gateway for me, to a wonderful network of future collaborators in the changing face of education in today’s world.