Teacher Exchange: Radio Astronomy in Schools
After having met in October 2021 in Portugal (see article) Nelson Alves Correia decided to visit Máire Duffy in Ireland to work on their Joint Project "Radio Astronomy in School". This project has been selected for the European Science on Stage festival 2022 in Prague.
Read Nelson's report here:
During the joint project "Radio Astronomy in Schools" I went to Clonkeen College, in Dublin (Ireland), to work with Máire Duffy in her school. I helped Máire to use a Software Defined Radio (SDR) with a RTL-SDR dongle to detect radio waves and I participated in Physics classes where students did activities related with Radio Astronomy: detection of radio waves and building a horn antenna to detect the 21 cm hydrogen line from the Milky Way. We visited with students the Rosse Telescope (Leviathan of Parsonstown) in the Birr Castle, a 183 cm reflecting telescope completed in 1845 which was the largest in the world for decades, and the I-LOFAR radio telescope station (Irish Low Frequency Array - https://lofar.ie), built in 2017 with around 3000 antennae. In the I-LOFAR Education Centre, we participated in a videoconference about radio astronomy with a researcher from I-LOFAR.
In this meeting I also explored the equipment that Máire uses with the students, shared ideas for activities with the SDR and the horn antenna, attended Physics classes about energy, visited the school and talked with other teachers. I also visited some places in Dublin, Greystones, Wicklow Mountains National Park and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Newgrange (an astronomical observatory with more than 5000 years old).
Back at home, I will be carrying out new activities with the SDR, using different types of antennas, and students will build a horn antenna radio telescope. We will share and compare our work, improving our knowledge on radio astronomy, and we will present the joint project in the Science on Stage 2022 festival.
It was my first time in Ireland and it was a very good experience to learn more about this country. It is also important to visit other European schools and share experiences and teaching methodologies with teachers from different countries.
Neslon Alves Correia, Portugal, Agrupamento de Escolas Gil Paes