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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

STUDENTS
Target Group
20 000
Children/Users
46
Countries
2017
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
795
Views
Updated on June 9th, 2021
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about the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

In 2017 we created the Global Sky Partner programme, with the goal of matching our professional level telescopes with high-quality educational programmes. The key driver is to make these resources available to groups and individuals who would not normally have these kinds of opportunities. Together this partnership has had a far greater reach than we could have alone.

How does your innovation work in practice?

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

Each year we host a competition for educational projects using the Las Cumbres Observatory global network of robotic telescopes. The programmes with the best educational goals, support, and are most inclusive to diverse audiences are selected.

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. We support the partners and the partners support their users.

How has it been spreading?

During 2020 we supported 20,000 individuals directly and a further 20,000 indirectly:

1,500 direct and 20,000 indirect - Mentoring, workshops and training programs
1,800 direct - Self-directed learning and investigations
17,000 - Citizen Science

From partners offering mentoring, workshops and training programs, with a total audience size of ~1500 individuals, the audience demographics are:

40% of the audience are from disadvantaged or under-represented communities, or developing world countries.
13% of the audience are mentored in publication quality research projects, resulting in 18 publications in professional journals with 9 more papers in preparation, and 7 talks at professional conferences by high-school students.
53% of the audience take part in workshops and teacher training.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Our partners run a diverse range of projects, either in-person or online. Some partner programmes are open to specific groups (e.g. geographical location) but many are completely open. Look at our partner programmes and choose one which matches your interests.

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 2020
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 audience figures for 2020 are:1,500 direct and 20,000 indirect - Mentoring, workshops and training programs1,800 direct - Self-directed learning and investigations17,000 - Citizen ScienceFrom partners offering mentoring, workshops and training programs, with a total audience size of ~1500 individuals, the audience demographics are:40% of the audience are from disadvantaged or under-represented communities, or developing world countries.13% of the audience are mentored in publication quality research projects, resulting in 18 publications in professional journals with 9 more papers in preparation, and 7 talks at professional conferences by high-school students.53% of the audience take part in workshops and teacher training.Find out more about our 2020 Global Sky Partners in our annual report.
Expeditions in the Remote Learning Environment: MDCS Trailblazers Venture Virtually into the Cosmos | The Trailblazer
Middle school students carried out an observation campaign on an exoplanet transit using Las Cumbres Observatory’s 0.4m telescope at Teide Observatory in the Canary Islands. These observations were taken to help the ExoClock project (from the European Space Agency) to keep updated information on the orbital characteristics of exoplanets. Read more about this at the Mountain Discovery Charter School's Blog
Student Publications and Talks in 2020
The following publications are by high school students in peer-reviewed journals, as a result of investigations through Global Sky Partners in 2020:11 papers published in Journal of Double Star Observations,4 papers published in Astronomy: Theory, Observations and Methods Journal2 papers published in Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society1 paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society7 talks were presented at the June 2020 Society for Astronomical Sciences conference9 papers are in preparation for publication in Journal of Double Star Observations, again by high school students
InStAR Students Publish Work Featuring LCO Data
The Institute for Student Astronomical Research (InStAR) students had eight abstracts accepted to the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union, and six of those use data from the LCO network. These papers were presented virtually at the AGU meeting in December 2020.These six abstracts are:Photometric Study of RR Lyrae V0893 Her by a Student Research TeamTyce Olaveson, Amber Mistry, Stephen McNeil, & Rachel FreedAstrometric measurements for double-stars not found in the WDSRoberta Bonnell, Tyce Olaveson, Jakob Bergstedt, Dallin Fisher, Stephen R. McNeilResults From a Remote Undergraduate Research Experience Using Robotic Telescopes to Study RR Lyrae StarsRachel Freed and Michael FitzgeraldAstronometric Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (A CURE)Corin Slown, Rachel Freed, Robert BrazzleExperiences in Astronomy Research for Undergraduates with InStAR and Our Solar SiblingsStephen McNeilNew Measurement of Binary Star System WDS 18166+8027Kiki PanigrahiInStAR’s mission is to develop, conduct, and promote the adoption of the Astronomy Research Seminar, which is an immersive, student team-based astronomical research experience for high school students.
Cosmic Adventures
Our Global Sky Partner Cosmic Adventures is an “inreach” program of the Orange County Astronomers, providing members with opportunities to do real astronomical research and activities of scientific value. There is a significant aspect of this program for the youth members of the group which is modeled after the program “100 hours for 100 schools”, providing basic astronomy inspiration and awareness through robotic telescopes. Here is a padlet where members have shared their observations and can engage in further discussion. 
Audience Survey 2020
Each year we ask partners to share our audience impact survey with their audiences. In 2020 the survey showed that Global Sky Partners had overwhelming positive impact. After being involved in a Global Sky Partner program, and particularly using LCO telescopes, data and resources:95% said “I can contribute to science”87% said “I enjoy working on science projects and would like to be involved in them in the future”82% said “I am confident in my ability to do science”
HI STAR Student Program in Maui Excels in Research
Las Cumbres Observatory provides telescope observing time and financial support to students in Hawai’i doing research in the HI STAR program through the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. In spite of the pandemic, Dr. Armstrong and his team were able to run the HI STAR program this year, interacting through online Zoom meetings. An advantage to holding the program online was that researchers from around the world were able to give instruction in their areas of expertise.Hear more about the students' achievements.
Apply to be a 2021 Global Sky Partner
Applications are open to become a Global Sky Partner for 2021. As part of this programme you will have access to a professional network of astronomical telescopes, a community of experts in astronomy education, and in-house mentoring, so your programme can have the highest educational impact.
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

March 2021
Publication of annual report
October 2020
Lise Meitner medal awarded to Edward Gomez for Global Sky Partners
June 2020
New Global Sky Partners added
January 2020
Publication of annual report
November 2019
2020 Global Sky Partners selected
June 2019
Innovation page created on HundrED.org
November 2018
2019 Global Sky Partners selected
December 2017
First Global Sky Partner projects start
Map

Spread of the innovation

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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