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Inspiring students around the world to engage in astronomy and science investigations using robotic telescopes

Global Sky Partners

location_on Cardiff, United Kingdom
To provide sustainable, scalable education projects using robotic telescopes, we created Global Sky Partners. The partners use Las Cumbres Observatory's unique telescope network as an educational tool for teacher training, student apprenticeships, citizen science, inspirational space outreach, publication-quality research, & training for the next generation of scientists in the developing world.
Edward Gomez, Education Director, Las Cumbres Observatory
These partnerships provide a unique educational opportunity to inspire new and diverse communities, regardless of national or cultural boundaries or what their background is.

Edward Gomez, Education Director, Las Cumbres Observatory

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2021

Key figures

Innovation Overview

6 - 18
Age Group
11 000
Children/Users
24
Countries
2017
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
509
Views
Updated on November 13th, 2020
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about the innovation

Global educational programs using robotic telescopes

Las Cumbres Observatory launched the Global Sky Partners program in 2017 with the goal of inspiring students around the world to engage in astronomy and science endeavours by providing 1,000 hours of observing time on our telescope network to educational groups annually.

LCO enters into an equal partnership with each Global Sky Partner, helping them to sculpt and deliver their program, creating something which is greater than the sum of its parts. This partner program is truly innovative and has never been realised on this scale before in astronomy education.

Who are they?

The Global Sky Partners are a diverse group of educators and scientists who run fully-supported education projects and investigations using the Las Cumbres Observatory network of robotic telescopes. Training, mentoring and continuous support are offered to all partner programs by our education staff, and partners engage in monthly online meetings where they discuss ideas and share accomplishments.

Each selected partner has an exemplary track record in astronomy education and allows LCO to reach unprecedented audiences. Some Partners manage their programs in person and others run their programs entirely online, offering a global reach to students, teachers, and the wider public. Each Partner program has its own goals and target audiences—some provide a large variety of projects, all of them using LCO while others use LCO as part of a wider educational curriculum.

About the partners

Our Global Sky Partners run programs using LCO for long-term studies of asteroids, teacher training, student apprenticeships, inspirational space outreach events, in-depth investigations for journal publication, training for the next generation of scientists in the developing world, and citizen science.

In the inaugural year of 2018, there were 16 Global Sky Partners selected from many applications. The first year was a great success and over 15 peer-reviewed papers have been published by the Partners. During 2019, the Partners shared LCO data and resources with 11,000 people directly and a further 13,000 in-directly. Because of their use of LCO, middle- and high-school students from our Partners have won state-level science fairs, attracted college scholarships, presented their research at international conferences to professional astronomers, and published peer-reviewed scientific papers.

In 2019, there were 12 returning and 9 new Partners for a total of 21 projects using 1,300 hours of telescope time. The program is truly global and now includes groups based in 24 countries across Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Australia and the Middle East.

Unique scientific tools

A unique aspect of this partnership is the robotic telescope network. By joining a Global Sky Partner, you have access to Las Cumbres Observatory's network of 10, 0.4-meter, professional grade telescopes. These telescopes are located at 6 of the top astronomical observatory sites around the globe, and offer unprecedented views of dark skies.

We recognised early on that to achieve the full educational potential of this unique scientific resource, we needed to engage with external groups around the world who were doing high-quality astronomy education projects. Key to the success of Global Sky Partners is providing diverse and fully supported educational programs to audiences around the globe, not just ones in developed regions.

Global, scalable, inspirational education projects

The Global Sky Partners program is a uniquely scalable and sustainable. The selection of the partners is key to this success, there is a critical balance of partners with high levels of expertise and exemplary track record, and exploratory partners, particularly those with projects for under-served communities. Each partner develops a program for a specific target audience, with educational and technical support built in, using LCO's robotic telescopes to leverage their own talents and resources. As we add more Global Sky Partners, the user community grows but so does the support community.

Impact

All participants in the Global Sky Partners program are requested to complete evaluation for the program as a whole, and individual partners are encouraged to perform their own specific evaluation (with assistance from LCO). The impact figures for 2019 are:

  • 2,300 - Mentoring, workshops and training programs
  • 8,400 - Online and citizen science programs
  • 13,000 - In-direct audience (e.g. students, whose teachers had direct contact)

The audience demographics were:

  • 21% of the audience are from disadvantaged or under-represented communities, or developing world countries.
  • 31% of the audience are mentored in publication quality research projects, resulting in 28 publications in professional journals, and 4 talks at professional conferences by high-school students.
  • 34% of the audience take part in workshops.
  • 23% of the audience take part in teacher training.

Inspiration

The great strength of our cutting-edge program is that it uses our robotic telescope network as a tool to inspire an appreciation of science and a curiosity about the Universe that will hopefully spark a lifelong love of learning. Providing students with access to our telescopes fosters a feeling of ownership over their learning and opens the potential for real discovery and contribution to scientific knowledge. While a scientific career is not for everyone, by inspiring an appreciation for learning in our audiences and helping them hone their scientific skills, we can help ensure they’ll become science literate members of society who are capable of making well-informed decisions about the world that affects them.

The Future

As of 1 July 2020 we have added 7 new partners to the Global Sky Partners program. These have diverse audiences in Nigeria, Nicaragua, Libya, Qatar, Colombia, Paraguay, UK, and USA. We are continuously looking for partners who have innovative ideas for using robotic telescopes for science education.

Research

HundrED Academy Review

Sustainable model providing access to resources for teachers and students globally.

- HundrED Academy Member

Global Sky Partners is scalable as it partners with local organizations, and makes a conscious outreach to underserved communities.

- HundrED Academy Member
IMPACT & SCALABILITY
A worldwide network of telescopes each allowing time for this project gives an opportunity for scalability. Inter-organization partnerships and an intentional focus on making astronomy more accessible in under-served communities makes this innovation scalable and provides significant potential for individual and community impact.
Academy review results
Scalability
Impact
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process
Media

See this innovation in action

Impact in 2019
All participants in the Global Sky Partners program are requested to complete evaluation for the program as a whole, and individual partners are encouraged to perform their own specific evaluation (with assistance from LCO). The reach for 2019 was:2,300 - Mentoring, workshops and training programs8,400 - Online and citizen science programs13,000 - In-direct audience (e.g. students, whose teachers had direct contact)The audience demographics were:21% of the audience are from disadvantaged or under-represented communities, or developing world countries.31% of the audience are mentored in publication quality research projects, resulting in 28 publications in professional journals, and 4 talks at professional conferences by high-school students.34% of the audience take part in workshops.23% of the audience take part in teacher training.
Activities at Home
Carry on with astronomy while you are under lockdown because of COVID-19. This selection of activities are all appropriate for the home. Whether you are looking for some fun demos or longer investigations, there is plenty for you to choose from.Activities at Home >
Inspiring International Teachers
The "100 hours for 100 schools" Global Sky Partner is showcasing their 2019 teacher observations via Padlet The teachers were international primarily from Morocco and India. They had no prior astronomy knowledge before being involved. They used the Las Cumbres Observatory robotic telescopes to make observations and shared them via this Padlet.
Student research posters
The Glendale Community Project (Global Sky Partner) students present posters of their research at the college’s public spring exhibition. 
3D printed images from LCO observations
Blind and visually impaired students from the Tactile Observatory project (Global Sky Partner) were able to make observations with LCO and 3D print their observations as tactile images. 
Turning astronomical data into music
Students from Appalachian Star Song Project, Global Sky Partner, turn their astronomical data into a musical melody through a process called “sonification”.
11,000 people reached in 2019!
A major goal of the Global Sky Partner program is to provide opportunities to use professional quality instrumentation for genuine scientific investigations, to people who would not otherwise have that opportunity. We are very pleased that in 2019 the total direct audience size, of all partner programs was 11,000 (mainly school age students and teachers), with 21% coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or under-represented communities. This audience used the Las Cumbres Observatory global network of robotic telescopes for educational projects, supported by 21 partners in 23 countriesAs a direct result of being involved in the Global Sky Partners, 31% of the total audience were involved in science investigations. We have seen over 28 peer-reviewed publications and 4 talks at professional, astronomical conferences by high-school students in 2019 alone. This is an unprecedented level of achievement. Additionally we had inspirational projects for absolute beginners which lead them through the process of making their first astronomical observation, and citizen science programs to investigate unexplained phenomena.Many of these programs were successful in being selected for our 2020 Global Sky Partners program which provides excellent continuity for these audiences.For the full scale of the 2019 Global Sky Partners, have a look at our annual report.
Call for Global Sky Partners 2020
Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) is pleased to announce that we are accepting applications for new Global Sky Partners. We are seeking applications for organized and structured astronomy-education programs with well-defined target audiences. Global Sky Partners will observe astronomical phenomena with LCO telescopes and use the data as part of their educational activities.We are looking for interesting, engaging, and innovative ideas for astronomy education or outreach projects that make use of LCO's unique capabilities, including our global network of telescopes and scheduling software. Projects that involve monitoring of astronomical events or following up on recent astronomical discoveries are particularly suitable.Essential information:We are offering a total of 1,000 hours of observing time on the LCO 0.4-meter telescope network for use between 1 December 2019 and 1 December 2020 for all projects;We are offering this time only for educational projects as part of organized programs, not to individuals;A full proposal application needs to be submitted and will be reviewed by a panel of experts;Proposal deadline is 15 September 2019.For full information about this call, eligibility criteria, and how to apply, please visit the official Las Cumbres Observatory call for proposals.
Jupiter's moons movie
Global Sky Partner, Modeling Teachers, has created a teaching resource which uses an animation of observations of Jupiter's Moons to demonstrate fundamental physics.
Student presenting results at NASA conference
Student from Global Sky Partner (Stanford Online High School) presenting their results from an investigation using Las Cumbres Observatory at a NASA conference on citizen science.
I found an asteroid!
Students finding asteroids as part of the HI Star Global Sky Partner programme in Hawai'i
High-school student research
Teacher summer school
Summer school teacher training
Camp Cosmos
A week long programme of astronomy events for junior school students using robotic telescopes.
Hong Kong
Hong Kong science festival school workshop

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

June 2020
New Global Sky Partners added
January 2020
Publication of annual report
November 2019
2020 Global Sky Partners selected
June 2019
Innovation added to the HundrED
November 2018
2019 Global Sky Partners selected
December 2017
First Global Sky Partner projects start
Map

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Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Want to use robotic telescopes?
Join one of our Global Sky Partners for a fully supported, educational project using Las Cumbres Observatory.
Read more
02
Want to start a project?
Annually we give out 1000 hours of telescope time for the most innovative education projects
Read more