Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) hosts a unique network of 21 robotic telescopes that are located at observatories around the world and controlled via the Internet to work as a single instrument. The data from these telescopes is made available through a suite of educational resources, covering an array of astronomical topics. Those include interactive Web apps, classroom activities, educational videos, citizen science projects and more, designed for students from age six to over eighteen.
For the past decade, the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) has deepened our understanding of the Universe by making use of its unique worldwide network of robotic telescopes. Since the beginning of the LCO project, education has been one of its core areas of work. Educators, students and science enthusiasts around the world are invited to participate in this endeavour, by carrying out real scientific investigations and making use of this impressive network.
Data from 21 telescopes of different sizes spread across the globe is made easily accessible through this project. The telescopes can be controlled remotely as a single instrument from anywhere in the world. Educational resources, covering a vast range of astronomical topics, are developed based on these observations and data. They include activities that are dedicated to the solar system, such as how the Sun’s diameter is measured, how asteroids are tracked and their light curves measured, and how the age of planets and their moons is calculated. It is even possible to travel further in the hunt for exoplanets, explore the lifecycle of stars and calculate the age of the Universe itself!
LCO’s activities include interactive Web apps, like SEROL (intended for young people aged eight to fourteen) and Agent Exoplanet (intended for young people aged twelve to eighteen), classroom activities, educational videos, citizen science projects and print materials, such as comics, activity books and paper craft models. In fact, LCO has educational resources that are suitable for audiences ranging from elementary to university.
In 2018, LCO has educational partners based in the United States, Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Australia, or running entirely online programmes, for students of all ages, teachers, and the wider public. These are groups who use the LCO robotic telescopes to inspire diverse audiences with educational and outreach projects that they support.
Country: United Kingdom, Other
Coordinator: Las Cumbres Observatory, United Kingdom, https://lco.global/
Education Partner Programmes
- NUCLIO, Portugal.
- Office of Astronomy for Development of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), South Africa.
- Western Carolina University, United States.
- Sonoma State University, United States.
- Glendale Community College, United States.
- Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Canada.
- University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
- Louisiana State University, United States.
- Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, Qatar.
- University of Hawaii, United States.
- Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, United States.
- Edith Cowan University, Australia.
Target groups: college students, general public, parents, primary school students, secondary school students, teachers, trainee teachers, university students, university lecturers, vocational school students, youth clubs
Topic: Astronomy, Gender in STEM, Physics, Education
Start year: 2011
Contact person: Dr Edward Gomez, Email egomez (at) lco.global
Several reports have been published, examining how robotic telescopes, and specifically Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO), impact education in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Las Cumbres Observatory's Education Team has created a suite of in-house astronomy education resources, including interactive Web apps, classroom activities, educational videos, citizen science projects and more, for students aged six to over eighteen. Its educational resources can be found at: https://lco.global/education/resources/
A list of the project’s educational partners can be found at: https://lco.global/education/partners/