Following the appointment of the UK Project Manager for Universe Awareness (Libby McKearney) in September 2011, the main focus of the Project has been on the training of primary school teachers.
In 2011 four one-day courses were delivered, reaching a total of 67 schools. The venues were Armagh Observatory on 18th October, NEELB Antrim Board Centre on 16th November, SELB Clounagh Centre, Portadown on 18th November and SEELB Dundonald on 7th December.
The course is a combination of presentations, Internet research and practical activities which aim to make the teachers feel more comfortable to begin teaching astronomy and to increase their own knowledge of the subject. Areas covered are Earth, Moon and Sun, Relationships between these and effects, Our Solar System, Distance and scale, Earth’s place in the wider Universe, “Earth’s Place in Space; Bringing “Heaven” Down to Earth,” Observation & inspiring interest, Website familiarization and Finding good sources of information. The pilot course also showcased the facilities at Armagh Observatory & Armagh Planetarium.
Here in the Northern Ireland Primary School Sector, astronomy fits into the Learning Area ' World Around Us.' There is a specific reference in the statutory programme of study for KS2 where pupils are expected to know about 'Our place in the Universe'.
EU-UNAWE follows the same vision as UNAWE: to use the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire young children and encourage them to develop an interest in science and technology. The programme also aims to introduce children to the idea of global citizenship and tolerance at a crucial stage of their development – to show them that they are part of an international community.
Until the advent of UNAWE, there were no large scale attempts to use astronomy as a tool for inspiring and educating young children. Therefore, while resources are open to all, the programme is aimed at children aged 4 to 10 years, especially those from underprivileged communities.