Science Outreach at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology

The Mars Yard at the Powerhouse Museum

Integrating science education with science research

At the outset the ACA made a deliberate decision to integrate education and outreach with its research. It was a bold initiative in 2002 and even today these areas are rarely so intimately related.

Our strategy was to provide opportunities for high school students in particular but to also carry out substantial and solid research on the effectiveness of the education projects that we mostly lead in partnership with national and international universities, NASA astrobiology teams, with other institutions, and in one case with industry.

The result has been four nationally and internationally significant education projects:

1. 2010-2013: Pathways to Space, funded to just under $1m by the Australian Space Research Program run by the Australian Government’s Space Co-Ordination Office.

2. 2013-2015: The Mars Lab,  (which utilises the Mars Yard) funded to $2.9m by the Australian federal government’s Department of Education.

3. 2013-2014: The Smart Science Initiative funded to $1.64m by the Australian federal Government’s Australian Maths and Science Partnerships Program run by the Department of Education.

4. Ongoing development: Virtual Field Trips

In addition to our projects, the ACA also won the 2002 Fulbright Symposium ($20,000) which enabled us to bring US and Australian teachers together for a four-day symposium Science Education in Partnership.

Associated key paper: DeVore, E., Oliver, C.A., Wilmoth, K.L. and Vozzo, L. (2004) Science Education in Partnership: The 2002 Australian-American Fulbright Symposium, Advances in Space Research, Elsevier 34 (2116-2120)