The Perfect Match
A tour from the Stars to the Earth, from a leader astronomical observatory in the world to the best place for studying the Northern Lights and Space Weather. A tour between two distant islands, which set together a perfect match for enhancing STEM education, activating international collaboration between students and raising 21st Century Skills.
The main objective of RockStar (an acronym for "rocket" and "star") is to establish an annual exchange program between students from Spain, Norway and Denmark through a coordinated project between high schools from the different countries, and three institutions dedicated to the dissemination of science and research: the Museum of Science and the Cosmos (MCC), the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), both in Tenerife, and the National Center for Space-related Education (NAROM), located in Andøya, Norway. This program focus on astrophysics, space science and technology, and priories practical activities.
RockStar makes use of the fantastic educational infrastructures located Tenerife (MCC and Teide Observatory) and Andøya. These complement very well offering a unique frame for developing educational projects based on active-inquiry learning by using the attractive astrophysics and space science fields as a hook to get attention into STEM disciplines. In this pilot experience, the activities for Tenerife have focused on astrophysics and technology (the Sun as Star), and in Andøya on space physics, climate, and technology (the active Sun and its relation with the Earth). The great experience of these institutions in educational projects related to the objectives of RockStar guarantees a high-quality program.
A hook for enhancing STEM
Space sciences and astrophysics are the most popular scientific disciplines, especially among young students. Educational projects based on these disciplines are very valuable to increase interest in science and technology in general. We have a great opportunity because the institutions that participate in this project are very active in these fields, not only in research but also in education and outreach.
The location of Tenerife and Andøya in areas far north and south of Europe, the infrastructures available in these centers, the research they carry out, together with the educational activities, offer an excellent framework for joint educational projects. These institutions have areas where the educational objectives complement very well. RockStar pursues several objectives related to science and technology: from the understanding of our Sun as a star (research and dissemination activities of the MCC and the IAC) to the consequences of solar activity and auroras (main research line in Andøya Space Center). In addition, there are important links related to climate and environment. For example, both islands share the Gulf Stream current and its consequences that are monitored by using satellites.
Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
The Astrophysics Institute of Canary Islands (IAC) and the observatories of the Canary Islands have been important pillars in astrophysical research worldwide for many years and, in particular, in the study of the Sun. On the other hand, the Science and Cosmos Museum, MCC, has a crucial role in scientific and technological dissemination in Tenerife. The opportunity to visit these centers, to be in contact with current research, the "state of the art" of instrumentation, attend conferences of scientists and, especially, perform practical tasks related to astrophysics, is a unique experience for young students.
Andøya, Nordland, Norway
The National Center for Space-related Education NAROM develops several educational programs related to space science and technology (STEM). NAROM is located in Andøya, just under the aurora borealis oval activity. NAROM is part of the Andøya Space Center (ASC), one of the most important center in Europe for Northern Lights research. ASC has been operative for studying the Northern Lights for more than 50 years. This is done by using sounding rockets. NAROM develops several space-related practical courses for students using the ASC infrastructure. A typical course in NAROM focuses on practical activities that include the building of sensors to measure different parameters in the atmosphere, payload integration, mounting the rocket, tests, launch operation, telemetry for taking data, and data analysis. This practical approach gives the best insight into a real campaign and the learning feedback is very positive. Students also receive lectures about rockets and satellite physics and their applications. The use of satellite images for monitoring climate and environment are other important subjects developed at NAROM. In this line, ASC is developing the first satellite launcher in Europe, called Andøya Space Port. This will provide a unique arena for developing further activities related to satellites and Earth Observations. Solar activity is also one of the main subjects in NAROM.