The logo for the galileo Teacher Training Program
A black-and-white logo of kids standing together, pointing at the stars
There’s no denying the power of a few big science ideas to inspire children, drive curiosity and facilitate learning.  Some of these concepts, like dinosaurs and space, can even reduce the most stoic adults among us to a state of child-like wonder. It’s still amazing to realise that 12 metre-long half-reptile half-bird monsters roamed the Earth 65-million years ago. Or to acknowledge that the planet Earth could be just an average piece of rock, cruising round an average star, just one such planet among millions in the universe.

For many teachers, really capitalising on the wonder and excitement of space can be a challenge. Because, while all teachers want to foster their pupils curiosity and use it explore concepts in science, math and technology, most don’t have any background in astronomy. So, what can they do when they’re faced with some of profound questions  raised by these topics? Or to combat the common misconceptions?

Enter the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP), a program born during the International Year of Astronomy, 2009. According to their website, the GTTP goal is “to create a worldwide network of Galileo Ambassadors and Galileo Teachers. These Ambassadors train Teachers in the effective use and transfer of astronomy education tools and resources into classroom science curricula.”

In practice, this is an amalgam of resources, a system of teacher workshops to develop their classroom teaching, and a network of support and inspiration from around the globe.

“In astronomy, there are misconceptions and tricks that pop up time and time again. So in a workshop setting, you can come up with teaching strategies to address these,” says Rob Hollow, a CSIRO Education Officer, the first ambassador for the program in Australia and the Australian national coordinator.

Participants from the 2013 Astronomy from the Ground Up! teacher workshop in front of the Dish at sunset.
Participants from the 2013 Astronomy from the Ground Up! teacher workshop in front of the Dish at sunset.

Participants from the 2013 Astronomy from the Ground Up! teacher workshop in front of the Dish at sunset.

Rob has been running a three-day astronomy workshop, Astronomy From The Ground Up!, at the Parkes Observatory every May for about 10 years. Since 2009, attendees have been certified as Galileo Teachers, as part of the international scheme.

For International Coordinator, Rosa Duran, from Nuclio in Portugal, the best part of GTTP is “the 24-hour support. There is always someone available to help, to build the necessary bridges. We are trying to ensure that any teacher, anywhere in the world can be touched by our network with the same benefits and possibilities.”

Find more about the Galileo Teacher Training Program and the resources they have available at their website, or through their Facebook page.

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