Inspiring every child with our wonderful Universe (in a Box)
Children across the globe find space the most interesting topic in school but educators often lack the resources and training to engage kids in this exciting subject. We want to educate schoolchildren around the world in astronomy and space sciences by training teachers and sending them a really cool interactive teaching resource: Universe in a Box!
Universe in a Box is a physical toolbox for teachers and educators that makes teaching astronomy and space sciences to 4-10 year old children effective, engaging and fun.
Pledge now and receive astronomy kits for your classroom. With your pledge we send the boxes to where they're needed most: underprivileged schools around the world, building a global network of education communities.
"I love everything that is in the box" Teacher, Algeria
"The material encourages the kids to ask about the moon and about all the universe" Teacher, Bogota Columbia
"It is a fantastic resource that I will be making lots of use out of. Thank you for sending me one." Educator, Cardiff UK
Astronomy and education
Our awe-inspiring Universe captures the imagination of children, making it a great stepping-stone to introduce them to science and technology. In fact, surveys have found that children across the globe find space the most interesting topic in school. Many scientists can trace their initial interest in science to a moment in their childhood when they first looked up at the night sky and were introduced to the wonders of the cosmos.
Our Universe plays a unique role in science because it integrates a range of topics, presenting a more holistic view of our world while the vastness and beauty of our Universe and our place within it provides a special perspective that can help broaden the mind and stimulate a sense of global citizenship and tolerance.
Universe in a Box
The original idea for Universe in a Box grew out of the German Haus der Astronomie (House of Astronomy). It was developed to meet a demand for practical, interactive and fun resources to bring astronomy to the classroom. In 2012, the International Universe Awareness Team (UNAWE) were involved in the production of 50 prototypes of Universe in a Box which were sent to 30 countries around the world.
The response from teachers and educators was very positive and a definite need was established. The team then went on to commission the production of 1000 boxes. The next step is to get these boxes out and in use around the world and enable teachers to use them with confidence.
Universe in a Box provides teachers and educators with over 40 practical activities as well as the materials and models required to them. The following educational goals are encompassed by the kit:
- Support curriculum with a tool for teachers to help them overcome the initial preparation hurdle by choosing appropriate focus areas and providing appropriate learning objectives and materials
- Encourage inquiry-based learning among children, involving observing, discussing, drawing conclusions and presenting
- Link astronomical topics with other subjects such as mathematics, art and philosophy to support interdisciplinary learning and present a more holistic view of our universe
- Make children aware that we are all inhabitants of a small fragile planet: our Earth
- To encourage the desire to protect the environment and to respect other cultures.
What's in the Box?
Universe in a Box has a modular design and comes with five sections:-
- Our Fascinating Moon
- The Earth- Our Home Planet
- The Sun- Our Home Star
- Our Solar System
- The World of Constellations
The box contains a comprehensive activity book describing 40 activities for children aged 4 to 10. The activity book includes relevant background information, how-to steps, guidance on further experimentation, and craft templates for use in the classroom. The box contains all the materials and models required to do the activities. Exceptions are commonly available materials such as clay, scissors and coloured pencils.
Who can use Universe in a Box
Individual activities or entire modules can be used in a classroom or a playroom, with an ideal instructor to student ratio of 1:20. The box has been designed to be used by any type of instructor, including but not limited to:-
- Schools / Teachers
- Playgroups and Activity centres
- Science centres, Planetaria and Museums
- Amateur astronomer associations
- Outreach programmes
- Independent educators
Educators are also encouraged to customise the box with additional activities and materials of their own. The activity book is in loose-leaf folder format so teachers can easily add additional activities to it or use single activities within other topics.
Collaboration and Co-creation
The Universe in a Box project uses an innovative approach to create educational content through a collaborative and creative method. The original concept was developed between astronomers and educators, guaranteeing not only accurate scientific content but also developed explanations and methods for bringing this content into the classroom.
During the previous prototype stages, educators have shared their additions and improvements to the box so that these can be employed more widely. This process is ongoing so that Universe in a Box continues to develop in an organic way. Each used of the box will employ it in a slightly different way and make alterations and additions that make it unique. The International Office in Leiden takes some of the best of these and shares them across the ever-expanding Universe Awareness network.
Where will your contribution go?
The €15,000 we raise will meet four main requirements:-
- Distribution costs of the boxes
- Online training video for Universe in a Box
- Face-to-face training session for Universe in a Box
- Development of a new module called "Cultural Astronomy"
Distribution is a large cost to the project as we will deliver more than 100 boxes around the world. Schools were selected for Universe in a Box which service underprivileged communities. See the list of schools here. Each school or group who receive a box will become a new branch of the Universe in a Box network, enabling the creation of a global network of education communities.
The training session will bring together people from the different communities receiving the Universe in a Box and will follow the establish format of the Dutch teacher training workshops. Face-to-face sessions are interactive and allow participants to learn from each other as well as the training leader, while simultaneously developing some of their own ideas about Universe in a Box implementation.
Creation of a training video will complement the training session and will enable more remote recipients of the box (who may be unable to attend a face-to-face session) to learn about Universe in a Box. These training resources are crucial if we are to use Universe in a Box as a bridge from educators to astronomy which is often seen as a "difficult" obstacle overcome.
All of our rewards can be sent anywhere in the world (we won't add extra for postage).
Pledge €25+ and receive an UNAWE Earthball. Earthball is a light, blow-up version of our planet that comes with an activity book packed with ideas about using this tool for teaching astronomy, geography, environmental awareness, global citizenship and even physics and biology
€50+ pledgers will be treated to a UNAWE "goodie bag". This is a canvas bag (see below) crammed full of treats. It's got the Earthball and activity book (see above), a "Spacey" book (see bottom) and "Cosmos in your Pocket", an activity booklet for kids.
The inspiring children's book "Where is Spacey's planet?" is UNAWE's first published story. In it we collaborated with the well known Dutch publisher Leopold, world famous science and astronomy writer Govert Schilling and Dutch award-winning illustrator Jan Jutte, to use the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to encourage young children to have an interest in science and technology and foster their sense of global citizenship. The book follows Spacey, a friendly alien, who has landed on Earth's South Pole and cannot find his planet anymore.
If you have been convinced by all the information above and would like a Universe in a Box for your classroom, home or science centre, then pledge €120+ to our campaign. €165+ will get you Universe in a Box and all the other stuff we've mentioned too!
Finally, at the top end of our rewards, anyone who pledges €1000+ will get all of the above (Universe in a Box, goodie bag, Earthball, Spacey) AND a personalised training session for Universe in a Box. This will be part interactive workshop with kids and part educator-training.
Risks and challenges
Our experience in developing, producing, improving and delivering educational resources around the world means we are already prepared for many eventualities. Every project has challenges, but it is unlikely that there will be challenges we haven't come across already or won't be able to tackle. We want our backers to feel as important as we think they are, and to receive their rewards on-time or early.
The International Astronomical Union - Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) are an important partner in this project and their extensive global reach and experience will help us distribute the boxes through regional nodes and project leaders around the world.
We commit to keeping you informed of progress in the months following the campaign. Our promise to deliver is always going to be challenged by the complexities of manufacturing, production scheduling, shipping between continents, and more. Therefore, if unexpected issues occur in the delivery schedule, we will do our utmost to minimize the impact on our backers and devote ourselves to providing the best experience we can.
The current version of the box comes with an English handbook. However, electronic versions of the handbook are available in Dutch here: http://unawe.nl/middelen/lesmateriaal/UiB_handbook_NL_WEB/ and it will soon be available in Spanish, German and Portuguese as well.
Our pledges do not have an added delivery charge because we have taken these costs into account. Whether you live in Australia, India or Argentina, you can pledge for a reward and if our project is successful we will deliver it to the address you request.
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