Applications for the Teacher Training Pilot Program have now closed
The Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) invites and encourages all National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) to submit proposals for financial support for up to 2000 Euros for a pilot astronomy teacher training and professional development workshop to be scheduled in 2022. This dedicated grant requires a collaboration between one NAEC team member, a local teacher and, if possible, also an astronomer (see below for more details) to develop a workshop on a topic of their choice. Ten such initiatives can be supported, with five projects dedicated to primary school level (up to 12 years) sponsored by the OAE Center Italy.
This program is a pilot project in two ways. First of all, we want to support your ideas for teacher training and development workshops, in the hope that the workshop will serve as a proof of concept for you as a NAEC. We hope that, once the pilot project is completed, many of you will be able to organize future versions of the workshop you have developed, with local funding, the following year(s) thus building on your success. Secondly, this is a pilot project for us: We are asking all project groups to report to us on their experiences; from this, we hope to learn both about the variety of conditions, challenges and solutions that workshops of this kind face in an international setting, and at the same time gain data about future work on teacher training standards.
The condition that the workshop is developed in collaboration with a NAEC team member and submitted by this NAEC team member is strict. Applications submitted by others will not be considered. If you are a teacher interested in running such a workshop, please contact a NAEC in your country or territory to see if they wish to collaborate. The OAE currently has NAECs in over 100 countries worldwide.
The focus of the OAE is on teaching and learning at the school level (not university) and it is not outreach. Please see our sister offices the Office of Astronomy for Outreach (OAO) and Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) for support in other astronomy activities beyond the local school system.
The application deadline: 1 June 2022. We will notify you of the outcome by 1 July 2022. You can find the application form at the bottom of this page.
All information and eligibility criteria as well as rules are listed in this text and the FAQ below. The FAQ also contains advice on how to fill the application form, please read it thoroughly. Don’t hesitate to contact us at ttp22atastro4edu.org if you have any questions.
- Who can apply?
The application is to be submitted by a NAEC Team member who is also the principal organizer. However, we require a team of three organizers who are expected to be on-site during the workshop. This organizing committee, one NAEC, one local teacher, and a third organizer, ideally an astronomer (see question 4), should develop the workshop together.
- What if several NAEC Team members want to collaborate on this proposal?
That is not a problem. Please make it clear who is the responsible contact person in the application form and include the additional organizing team members in the section for additional comments in the proposal template. However, it should not be necessary to finance the travel of several NAEC Team members via this grant.
- Can the different NAEC Team members from the same country submit separate applications for different projects?
Yes, you can do so. However, each individual NAEC Team member can only submit one application.
- What do you mean by an “astronomer”?
This really depends on the situation. Where possible, we encourage reaching out to a professional astronomer, in particular if you as the NAEC, don’t have a background in astronomy. If this is not possible in your city/state/region, you may find an amateur astronomer to join your team. Or you can include a third (science-related) teacher and we suggest having a professional astronomer join virtually for dedicated question sessions. Since this is quite flexible, we have called the third person ‘other’ in the application form. Nevertheless, the organizing team on site should be three people.
- Why do you suggest an astronomer on the team?
We hope that your participating teachers will have many questions that might go beyond the knowledge of the NAEC and/or teacher, especially if they don’t have a very strong background in astronomy. We also hope that the astronomer can learn about teaching and the education system! This is also a great opportunity for the teachers to network and connect with an astronomer, and to be able to learn about astronomy as a profession.
- What if I can’t find an astronomer that speaks the teachers' language(s)?
In this case we encourage you to use some part of the budget for funding a translator, if feasible. You might also consider involving a translator for other reasons (e.g. sign language), if necessary.
- Who will be teaching the workshop?
We expect that you, a NAEC, together with the teacher on your team, prepare and present course content. The astronomer can contribute, but probably does not have a background in teaching students of the target age group, hence is not the primary teacher (even if the astronomer has experience of teaching at a University).
- There are no astronomy teachers in my region.
This is a common challenge, however, even if there are no astronomy teachers, students are still curious about the sky! The participating teachers will be able to transfer the knowledge gained in your workshop under different topics: this might be via geography, physics or mathematics, or another subject altogether. If this workshop aims to make a difference in students through inspiring the teachers, we encourage you to apply. Please make sure that the workshop level is adjusted to the teacher's background.
- Can the participating teachers be exclusively lecturers at universities?
No, the participating teachers should be educators from as young as pre-school up until high-school diploma, i.e. pre-university level.
- How many teachers participate in the workshop?
We recommend having between 8-20 participants, to be able to foster personal interactions and carry out small team projects. If you want to invite a lot more than 20 teachers and the budget is sufficient, please consider holding two workshops, and specify this in your application. The right amount of teachers depends on the type of activities you plan, and more teachers isn’t always better. We believe a small group can have a great experience and in turn also pass the acquired knowledge to other teachers, something that might be challenging to achieve with a large group of participants.
- How can I apply? What is needed for the application?
To apply, please use our application form at the bottom of this page. You will be asked to provide the names of your co-organizers, a brief summary of the workshop topics and teaching goals as well as a preliminary budget outline.
- What is the timeline and when will I know if our proposal has been accepted?
Proposal (strict) deadline: 1 June 2022
Evaluation and feedback: 1 July 2022
Accepted proposals that will be financially supported can go ahead with the detailed planning of the workshop (such as reaching out to teachers, to find participants, refining the budget and creating the workshop schedule).
Refined budget and logistics plan submission deadline: 30 July 2022 (for accepted proposals) You will also need to reach out to teachers in July/August 2022 so they can sign up: the workshop should be scheduled in the second half of 2022. In case this is not possible and you plan to host the workshop in early 2023 please let us know in the application form.
- English is not my native language. Could I get some support? My English is not good. What should I do?
Absolutely! Don’t worry, we encourage that the workshop is taught in your local language. As for the application, we are here to support you. We only ask for short texts to answer the questions and we recommend the use of free translators such as deepl.com. Please contact us should you have any issues with regards to language and translation (but please do so well in advance, at least two weeks before the deadline). By the way, most of us from the OAE offices are not native English speakers either.
- Where does the workshop have to take place?
That is up to you to decide, depending on the aim of your workshop. You may organize the workshop in the city where you are located, or target a specific remote location. However, we ask that the workshop takes place in a safe and secure environment for all participants including minorities, and abide by the IAU/OAE code of conduct found here. In addition, the workshop must obey local COVID-19 protocols at the time of the workshop (number of participants of meetings, the wearing of masks and similar).
- How detailed does the budget have to be?
For now, the budget should be a rough break-down of the costs with a clear total visible. Extreme costs dominating the budget, such as a plane ticket if the NAEC is located abroad, should be explained. The budget should include the following, if applicable: Workshop venue, estimated average travel costs per participant and accommodation, travel cost and accommodation for the organizing team if necessary, teaching materials, catering, banking fees (if needed data packages for cell phone wifi, etc.). We will ask you for a refined budget should your proposal be accepted.
- In my country, teacher training programs already exist. Can I still apply?
That is great, and yes, you can. Maybe you want to reach out to a different area, neighborhood, or age group, or possibly create a new workshop altogether.
- Can I repeat this workshop next year with funding from the OAE?
Unfortunately, no, this is a one-time grant. We hope that this financial support can be used for you to demonstrate a proof of concept and find local funding next year on the basis of this workshops’ success. Maybe your network of teachers from this year can help to carry out courses locally and reduce travel costs. Our funding is also limited and while we do hope that we can support teacher training in this form also next year, there will be a new call for new projects.
- Why is there a word limit of 300 words in the application form?
We want to keep this application simple and accessible for all, also those who are not native English speakers. We think 300 words is sufficient to bring across the key aspects and appreciate you not going over the word limit. You may also use the field for additional information if necessary.
- What should be the content and focus of the workshop about?
You are free to choose the main workshop topic and duration. Choose a focused topic (we do not expect you to cover all of astronomy 101 in a two day workshop), and specify the age group taught by the participating teachers. Schedule time for hands-on activities and experiments, and for Q&A sessions. The covered content should also show the relation between astronomy and other subjects, to increase the level of engagement. For both of these, we, the OAE, can collaborate with you and support you. We strongly encourage you to present materials to teachers that will support the relevance of astronomy in the curriculum as well as its importance to other science subjects; and the overall benefit of astronomy education in communities and in students' everyday lives.
- Where can I find teaching materials?
We encourage you to look into astroEDU , the Big Ideas in Astronomy and more resources from our website. If you have an idea for a workshop but don’t find teaching materials, feel free to contact us for suggestions (at least one month ahead of the deadline).
You are welcome to develop materials before the workshop if it is possible within the timeframe. However the workshop itself is for teaching and sharing activities, developing new skills and acquiring knowledge, not developing.
- Can you give me some examples of possible workshop topics?
Listed below are a few examples of workshop topics. You don’t have to choose from these topics but create a workshop that is targeted to the needs in your country or regions. As an example, you can choose to inspire primary school teachers with projects related to the Solar System, or you could choose to educate high school teachers to use and analyze real time data.
- “The Moon”: workshop for primary school teachers, to learn about the phases and the moon in our everyday life, experiments with craters and much more.
- Workshop to introduce the use of “real data for analysis” for advanced grade teachers.
- Workshop on “astronomy in our everyday life” (seasons, moon cycle, gravity (2nd Big Idea) -> guide the teacher from observed facts to understanding).
- Workshop on scales: “sizes and distances” (includes understanding and using large numbers (mathematics, physics))
- Our special “blue planet” (vs other planets), touching on climate change, life anywhere else…
- Introducing “GalaxyZoo and Galaxies” in general as background for intermediate grade teachers.
- Workshop on having an inclusive astronomy classroom; e.g. how to teach students with disabilities about the Universe.
- When and how can I receive the funding?
We can only transfer the funding once we have received a refined budget and workshop schedule by 1 August 2022 (for accepted proposals). We are not able to make transfers to individual people, neither the organizers nor the participants. Should you be awarded this grant, we can transfer the whole sum to a suitable institution such as a scientific institute, a university, an amateur astronomy club, a science museum or a school, and the funds have to be distributed amongst the participants and organizers as outlined in the refined budget.
Expensive travel costs (such as airfares) of participants should be covered before the workshop takes place. If you foresee any problems with this approach, for example having to pay a large tax deduction when receiving funding or not being able to receive a wire transfer at all, please contact us so we can help to find an individual solution. Please note that we can not transfer any funds to individual private persons.
- Do I need to write a report?
Yes, we will ask you to write a short report (approximately 2-3 pages) for projects that we supported. What worked well? What can be improved? How can we support you better? We want to learn too. If you have some pictures from the workshop, please consider sharing them with us (but please ask the participants permission to be photographed). After you have sent us the report, we can provide you with a certificate of the grant won and confirming the organization of the workshop. We would like the final reports to be submitted by 31 March 2023.
- How are winning proposals selected?
We want to see that you can create an impact in your region. This can be achieved with little or with lots of access to technology (see also this talk by Beatriz Garcia during the 3rd Shaw-IAU workshop).
All proposals will be evaluated on impact and feasibility by an international team of astronomy education experts. If we receive many equally impactful proposals we will try to distribute the funding in different areas around the world.
- Is the workshop taking place online or in person?
We encourage you to organize an in-person workshop, if your local COVID-19 restrictions allow you to do so safely. Should you decide to hold an online workshop, that is ok, but please justify any cost (i.e. data packages) in the budget clearly.
- Who is not eligible to apply?
NAECs who are also staff members in any OAE Office, Center or Node, are not eligible to apply. Applications have to be submitted by a NAEC team member.