Report on the Student Masterclass and Teacher Training Programs

5 Apr 2017

Report on the Student Masterclass and Teacher Training Programs

April 03 – 05, 2017

The student masterclasses were aimed at school students in the 15-18 age range who have a keen interest in space sciences. Thirty students from all over the UAE had masterclasses delivered by Professor Anu Ojha OBE (UK National Space Academy Director) and colleagues from the Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences. These sessions were a mixture of academic classes, practical hands-on sessions, and University tours. Several activities were done including:

  • - The physics and engineering of space suit design – including the chance to examine a genuine Russian high-altitude stratospheric survival suit.
  • - Understanding the planet Mars – including examination of a confirmed Martian meteorite.
  • - Using astronomy at all wavelengths – using spectrometers to analyze the solar spectrum and infra-red cameras to understand multispectral analysis.
  • - Science for the benefit of life on Earth – using Earth Observation and GPS data in real-time from satellites.
  • - Planetary orbits and human exploration beyond Earth orbit.
  • - Presentations from the UAE Space Agency, Lockheed-Martin, and tours of the University of Sharjah.

For the teachers training program (twenty teachers), the UK National Space Academy (NSA), as well as SCASS, were responsible for it. We should note that NSA is the UK’s largest space education and skills development program. NSA trains over 1400 UK and international science teachers each year through its programs in the UK, for the European Space Agency (ESA) and in China.

The training sessions were delivered by Andy McMurray (National Space Academy head of Teaching and Learning) and Sophie Allan (National Space Academy Lead Physics teacher) who used inspirational contexts from space science to boost teacher effectiveness in supporting curriculum physics, mathematic and engineering. Both work with the National Space Academy as outstanding practitioners of teaching and teacher training. There were also training sessions delivered by the outstanding team of scientists and astronomers from SCASS and the University of Sharjah.

In the teacher training, attendees were able to:

  • - Gain a deeper understanding of space science themes and how they can be used as effective contexts to boost student understanding and attainment in school curriculum physics/science
  • - Experience creative, engaging and effective mathematical modeling, hands-on and digital learning methodologies developed by the Academy for the UK and international education programs including for the European Space Agency
  • - Gain a deeper understanding of the UAE’s space sector and space programs including the use of UAE space science contexts in school science teaching and the highlighting of possible career pathways for students into the UAE space sector and wider science and engineering careers.

The Student Masterclass and Teachers Training programs were mainly sponsored by the Sharjah Center for Astronomy and Space Sciences and the UK National Space Academy. A closure ceremony was held on April 05, 2017 to distribute certificates of appreciation to the students, the teachers, and the UK National Space Academy team. His HE Prof. Hamid Al-Naimiy, the Chancellor of the University of Sharjah and the General Director of SCASS headed the closure ceremony. Several VIP invitees attended the ceremony. Prof. Hamid along with the invitees made a tour of the students experiments and was very pleased by the explanations given by the students themselves. 

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