ann22016 — Announcement

5 April 2022
astroEDU: IAU’s Open-Access Educational Platform Announces New Editorial Team and Major Update

Are you interested in a hands-on exploration of black holes for your middle-school students? Or a way of demonstrating the size of the Sun relative to that of the Earth, suitable for elementary students? In these and many other cases, astroEDU, the IAU’s educational activity portal, has you covered, with quality-controlled, engaging, structured activities suitable for pupils of different ages available for free online in an easily accessible format. Now, astroEDU is picking up the pace, with a change in leadership and new technology supporting the editorial process and enabling more versions of the site in different languages.

astroEDU was founded by Pedro Russo and Edward Gomez in 2013, as an open-access platform aiming to improve astronomy education resources through peer review. It has been endorsed by the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) and has published and distributed more than 100 resources on its English and Italian versions. Since May 2021 the platform has been operating under the auspices of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in Heidelberg.

On 1 April 2022 Livia Giacomini will take over as Editor-in-Chief of the international version of astroEDU. Livia is a staff member at the OAE Center Italy and the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF). At the same time, Giulio Mazzolo, a freelance science communication manager, will start in the new role of Associate Editor of astroEDU.

“There is nothing like astronomy to fascinate new generations, teach them humility and courage, help them develop critical thinking and learn the importance of asking the right questions, before finding the right answers.This is what we want to do with astroEDU; we want to select, build and distribute the best activities related to astronomy among a worldwide community of students, teachers, parents, and communicators who all collaborate together. We can astronomy and its fascination as an excuse to talk together about our life, about our planet, about science, technology, culture and much more,” says Livia Giacomini.

Under Giacomini’s lead, astroEDU will continue to do what it does best: making the best science activities, particularly those with an astronomical, earth or space science focus, accessible to educators around the world; providing an open-access platform for peer-reviewed science education activities; and providing a platform for educators to discover, review, distribute, improve, and remix educational activities.

It has always been the aim of astroEDU to provide high-quality activities for the international community. A recent overhaul of the website, which will facilitate the creation of multilingual versions of it, is helping to achieve this goal.

“The more people we reach, the more effective education can be. This is why sharing activities in multiple languages will be a major asset to the fulfilment of astroEDU’s educational mission.”, said Giulio Mazzolo, who also underscored that “astronomy is an experience able to connect us all, making it a subject particularly well suited to global educational endeavours.”

Markus Pössel, director of the OAE, adds: “Making available excellent educational resources is a key part of the mission of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education. We are glad to be able to support the astroEDU portal, and are looking forward to growing the collection of interactive activities. Astronomy is the ideal ‘gateway science’, and activities like those available on astroEDU make for a particularly engaging way of learning about our Universe.”

“We have made technical improvements to the publishing system and are now in a good position to add activities in additional languages,” says Edward Gomez, astroEDU co-founder. “Having educational activities available in numerous local languages is the key to making our resources available to teachers worldwide.”

Last but not least, astroEDU has been able to streamline its editorial process, having adopted the Open Journal System for handling it, with the support of both the OAE and Heidelberg University Library. This will make it easier to manage and coordinate reviews and changes to activities throughout the peer-review process.

astroEDU is run by volunteers and we look forward to welcoming new authors, reviewers and translators as we enter a new chapter for astronomy education resources.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 12 000 active professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

The IAU Office of Astronomy for Education is hosted at Haus der Astronomie (HdA), managed by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy. The OAE’s mission is to support and coordinate astronomy education by astronomy researchers and educators, aimed at primary or secondary schools worldwide. HdA’s hosting the OAE was made possible through the support of the German foundations Klaus Tschira Stiftung and Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung.


Edward Gomez

Gwen Sanderson
IAU Office of Astronomy for Education

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Director of Communications
Cell: +1 520 461 0433/+49 173 38 72 621

About the Announcement