The EU-HOU project is a collaboration of hundreds of teachers and scientists from 14 European countries with the purpose of creating a way for students to get excited by science, primarily through the use of astronomy. Astronomy is one of the most popular subjects for students of all ages, and the chance to use real astronomical data to investigate volcanoes and craters on Mars or the moons of Jupiter, to discover a new planet outside our solar system, or to weigh a galaxy, can engage our students in the wonders of scientific discovery, and excite the natural scientist contained in all people young and old alike.
Research into how people learn has shown that active learning is the best way to create true engagement of students in a subject, and has also been shown to lead to better understanding and retention of material than traditional lecture-style instruction. The exercises developed by EU-HOU are designed to promote such active learning by giving student real astronomical data, and the tools to analyse it simply and easily in their own classroom.
Making science more appealing to the young requires a serious rethinking of the way science is conveyed. Young people attribute their lack of interest in science and technology (S&T) to the way science is taught in schools, the complexity of these subjects, and an apparent shortage of attractive career prospects. The EU-HOU project "Hands-On Universe, Europe. Bringing frontline interactive astronomy to the classroom" is in keeping with the general goal of renewing the teaching of science.
Despite their love of gadgets and technological wizardry, too many young people see science as being uninteresting, distant and, above all, 'uncool'. This has translated into a gradual dropping off in the numbers of young people pursuing S&T studies and careers.
This has potentially serious consequences for Europe. Modern society’s prosperity and well-being is based on continuous scientific and technological progress. As Europe continues its quest to construct the world’s most competitive knowledge-based economy, the demand for top research talent is set to grow massively. If more young people do not join the ranks of the scientific community, this shortfall will become even greater.
The EU-HOU project has been funded at 44% through the European program MINERVA (SOCRATES) for a two-year period: grant 113969-CP-1-2004-1-FR-MINERVA-M. In the context of the Lifelong Learning Program, the EU-HOU project is now funded through the European program COMENIUS for another two-year period: grant is 141928-2008-LLP-FR-COMENIUS-CMP. The grant is funding 75% of the project, the other partners complete the funding.
Visit the EU-HOU web site.