First EU-HOU Comenius teacher training workshop - a teacher's point of view (2)

Portsmouth Grammar School
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The first Comenius funded teacher training workshop was held on the 7th-10th May this year and was attended by 2 UK teachers, Jacquie Milligan and Jeremy Thomas. Here is Jeremy's report on the succesful workshop:

"No INSET course I have ever attended has delivered quite as many exciting resources and opportunities as this one did. Over the course of the two full, working days I found an exo-planet, built a telescope, made a radio map of the Milky Way, observed Saturn and collaborated with teachers and astronomers from a dozen other European countries.

    The setting was quite remote, but rather idyllic with panoramic views over the Provencal countryside towards the snow-capped French Alps in the distance. There were only brief opportunities to appreciate this however, as we worked from 9:00 am until 6:30pm each day, including Saturday! The sacrifice was well worthwhile though, with excellent formal presentations on some of the latest research topics in Astronomy, interspersed with many hands on sessions using the resources developed in various countries for use by all our pupils.

My favourite session was definitely the live link to an educational radio telescope at Onsala in Sweden.

In real time we were able to point the telescope, watching it move into position via webcam, and talk directly to its Swedish operator whilst we received signals from the spiral arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. Within minutes we were able to view displays showing the radio frequency signature of these spiral arms. With a little training it is perfectly feasible to carry out this activity in your own classroom.

    Other sessions were equally rewarding, with interesting lectures and hands-on activities on the hot topic of how to find exo-planets orbiting stars other than our Sun.

This was particularly appropriate given the location as it was the 1.93m telescope at the Observatoire de’Haute Provence that was used to discover the first ever exo-planet in 1995.

    It was a real privilege to attend this meeting, not only for the Astronomy, but also for the opportunity to work with practising scientists and teachers from other countries. Despite being tired from four days of travel, work and different time zones I returned to my school inspired by the experience and ready to try out the activities with pupils in the school’s Space Exploration Society the very next day!"