why bringing space en space professionals into schools?

• Did your teachers talk a lot about space when you were at school?
• Did your teachers explain why space is important for humanity? Or did you leave school without any answer at all on this question?
• Have you ever seen inspiring video’s about the Apollo missions to the moon at school or at home?

I sometimes ask these questions to young people leaving secondary school. Most often, the answer is: no, we didn’t discuss space and human space exploration at school. We only know it from media reports or from searching the internet.

Almost everybody is fascinated by the wonderful realisations in space exploration. That counts also for children and teenagers. The Apollo missions to the moon changed the world forever. We might see the same effect for Mars missions in the near future. A manned mission to mars is estimated to happen in the late 2030’s. That means that the first people to land on Mars may be at primary or secondary schools today. They are among our students!

Then why don’t we use this fascination for teaching science and techniques? This needs change ! And quickly please, because fascinated children are motivated children that become passionate engineers and scientists when they grow up. We need passionate professionals more then ever for the huge amount of future challenges.

So we need change. It is exactly ESERO’s mission to bring this change in Belgian schools. To do this, we have school projects, classroom resources and teacher trainings in our offer.
To make it exciting and more linked with reality – thus more fascinating – we promote collaboration with professional space scientists and engineers in all our activities.
• Teachers need real scientists. To motivate students, the teacher needs to go beyond the theoritical level. School kids find it exciting when they come in touch with the professional (“real”) world.
• Scientists need to show the world the kind of work they’re doing. Popular research is much more appreciated and funded. Moreover, scientists usually care a lot about a good follow up of their work after they get retired. So scientist need outreach, especially to the educational world.
• Working together we want to passionate children in our schools, hoping they will discover that a carreer in science and engineering can offer them an exciting life full of interesting discoveries and opportunities.

Edward O Wilson, the famous ant specialist and sociobiologist, says: a good scientist works as a poet and as an accountant. Usualy, when giving lectures, he only plays the accountant role. Scientists are careful not to use poetry, proza or to generate strong emotions. They avoid metaphores. But the progress of science is not only depending on facts and evidence, but also on imagination and emotions.
When a scientist is rather an accountant than a poet, he can still find a good teacher to work together. Together they can bring inspiring science education.

Hope you want to join us !

Pieter Mestdagh, ESERO manager, 3 Nov 2015.