It is well-known that astronomy creates a sense of excitement and wonder in most students. The National Schools’ Observatory (NSO – www.schoolsobservatory.org) taps into that interest to explore science, mathematics and technology.
The NSO is a web-based resource run by Liverpool John Moores University that gives UK and Irish schools, and independent learners of all ages internationally, free access to their own observations from the world’s largest fully-robotic telescope – the Liverpool Telescope. Giving its participants unique and privileged access not only to the instrument itself but also to the astronomical research carried out by the telescope, the NSO is a powerful blend of cutting-edge research, professional instrumentation and education that inspires, motivates and supports the learning of pupils and their teachers.
The NSO has reached thousands of registered UK and Irish teachers and their classes, with nearly 200,000 sets of observations requested by schools and recently registration has been opened up to anyone anywhere with thousands of new users. Independent evaluation shows that the impact on both teachers and pupils is considerable and is described by teachers as “transformational” and “hugely inspirational”.
By providing research-driven materials across a number of STEM subjects the NSO is inspiring a generation of school students. As one pupil put it: “…the NSO was like an open door. It didn’t hold us back, made us feel like we were smart enough.”
Photo: Robert Smith / Liverpool Telescope / LJMU