Education with Milky-Way.Kiwi

Online Learning Modules

Our learning modules are delivered both via school visits and online.

We can cover any part of the curriculum that deals with space and astronomy. You can request us to deliver any of these topics. We also prepared a few examples of programmes we developed, based on our experience. 

Our online modules are up to 2 hours each,  where we run interactive sessions with teachers and students to give an introduction to the topics we discuss in depth while at school. In these sessions we use the medium of space to teach skills in observation and communication. The experience of COVID has taught us to find new techniques and ways of delivering programmes so we use the software we have in the planetarium to also conduct activities over the internet.

Space Sciences modules

Right now, space technology is all around us saving lives, enhancing crops, and making a better live here on Earth. We want our students to learn that by using space technologies and embracing a planetary perspective they can solve problems that mean a lot to them and to all of humanity, like pollution, climate change and sustainable resource use. Māori students learn how to use space to connect with each other, with their lands and resources to support and manage them for future generations. For instance, using Earth observation, archeology connects iwi to their whakapapa by locating important sites, space-based observations are used for resource protection, pest management and the monitoring of natural resources and the spread of diseases. 

As humankind makes the first steps to become a spacefaring civilisation, nations from around the world are planning what these are. The first, is going to the Moon, then exploring asteroids and then going to Mars.

The Moon has been a source of wonder and curiosity for humans even since we started looking up. From when Galileo first observed the craters on the lunar surface astronomers have been able to slowly piece together its turbulent history, with some help from a prominent New Zealand astronomer! Using our planetarium software we will take a tour of the lunar features and explore the expansive lava filled seas and piece together the sequence of impact events that have shaped the Moon we see today. It’s through observation of the lunar surface that astronomers have been able to create a timeline of successive bombardments by asteroids. These can also be related to the few remnant impact craters we have on Earth where we can observe the weathering effects of the atmosphere and plate tectonics. In understanding the history of the Moon we get to understand the history of the Solar System and how its stability, that we enjoy today, was significantly different in its turbulent past.
 

In our almost two decades experience in space and astronomy education in New Zealand, the one question we have constantly heard from parents, students and teachers is – what is the future for our kids in New Zealand if they want to work in space-related fields? 

Presently, New Zealand has a young and vibrant space industry valued at around 2 billion dollars, and growing. Kiwis have already explored the Earth and climbed its highest mountain, so space, for us, truly is the next frontier. Our talk is an invitation to adventure, to every young person in the country: “Learn your science and you will be the pioneers of New Space in New Zealand!” 

Follow Hari’s experience training as an analog astronaut at the Mars Desert Research Station, her internship at NASA Ames where she studied planetary protection working with Mars rovers, and then back to New Zealand where she set the New Zealand Astrobiology Network and explores our pristine skies and one of the best research field sites for planetary science in the world: Aotearoa. Learn about how seeds grow in space with the Japanese space agency and what you can do right now to contribute to the future of humankind. 

Astrobiology is a multidisciplinary science that tries to answer three fundamental questions; are we alone in the universe?, how did life start? and what is the future of humankind?. To try to answer these questions we go to the extremes of life on Earth, the only example of life we know of in the universe. We know that on Earth early microbial life was common around hot springs so we will have a look at some of these features here in New Zealand around the Taupo Volcanic Zone before taking off and heading to Mars in our planetarium software. On Mars we have a look at a site in Columbia Hills that may have once been a hot spring and compare those features with what we find on Earth. We also have a look at where Perserverence rover is currently operating in Jezero Crater and why it is looking for signs of life in and around a large feature likely created by flowing water. In understanding the nature and shape of features on the Earth’s surface we can recognise those same features on the surface of Mars and plan for future Mars missions.

Culture and History Modules

From New Zealand, we have “window seats” to look at the night sky. Not only are the skies in our hemisphere unmatched in how many stars we see, but Aotearoa’ star lore is made of those of the cultures that reached our shores. Polynesians and Europeans navigated here by the stars. 

Go to any city centre in a populated centre of Europe or North America and you will barely see a few stars – if you are lucky.

Light pollution, which is too much light at night, shuts our stars down, one by one. 

We don’t need to turn the lights entirely off to see the stars. We just need to use smart lighting. And while this is mostly a policy issue, solved with legislation and subject matter experts, there are things we can do at home to look after our night sky. Turn the lights at night in the rooms where we don’t need them. Choose outside fixtures on our homes that are efficient for us and good for the environment. Close your curtains at night so that light from the house does not spill outside.

Light pollution contributes to environmental pollution. And everyone can help reducing it. 

Our talk lays the basics of light pollution, explains what it is and what we can do about it and leaves you with follow up for your students so they can contribute, if they want, to citizen science programmes on keeping the sky dark. 

We want to connect students to the maritime beginnings of human arrival in New Zealand so we have a navigation programme that covers both Polynesian navigation and European navigation techniques that were used by people coming to New Zealand. 

Hari is the creative producer of the New Zealand’s newest planetarium show Ngā Tohunga Whakatere  - The Navigators, a movie that tells the story of Māori, Pasifika and, later, European navigation towards Aotearoa through the eyes of a young girl, Moko. Although this is a  30-minutes long planetarium movie, years of research and work have been undertaken before creating it, and 

This is done through practical lessons on how to navigate using the stars and how the dimensions of the Solar System were unlocked through observations of celestial events such as transits and eclipses.

Matariki

The stars of Matariki are visible in the morning sky of Aotearoa only around the winter solstice. With our planetarium software we can go anywhere in time to learn how to find them, fly through them and we talk about the science behind them.

We also talk about finding the star cluster other times of the year, where it is in the sky, what other names is it known by then and what  other people around the world think of it. The starcluster is  visible from anywhere in the world where people can see the Moon and the Sun and virtually every culture around the globe has a story about these beautiful stars. 

Find out more resources about Matariki here, including fly through videos and where to find them.  

We cover lessons on day/ night, seasons, stars, life in the Universe, size of the Universe, cultural astronomy, Matariki, and Pacific and European Navigation. We also explore the Earth and the local region applicable to the school we are connecting with. Our modules on New Zealand’s history of space, astronomy and navigation showcase the contribution that New Zealand brings to the world.

We will connect in advance to discuss your requirements and then live via Zoom to deliver the presentation.

Costs for the online talks is $120 per hour + GST

Our presentation uses a state-of-the art software package, created in collaboration by NASA and participating Universities, the same as the one we use in the planetarium but rendered for your computer screens. It enables the exploration of Earth, Mars, the Moon and other moons in the Solar System, down to very high resolution maps through to the edge of the Universe. The software is a simulation of current data obtained by space satellites undertaking Earth and planetary observations or researching the Universe, and is updated daily. We connect to the servers and download the latest updates on our computers before a talk.

Our remote modules take students through from the history of astronomy in New Zealand, light pollution, dark skies and citizen science to astrobiology in the Taupo Volcanic Zone and where to build a Mars colony. 

Also check out our other programmes

Mars Rovers

Access to Remote Telescopes

Analog Astronauts

Astrobiology Field Trip

We look forward to working with you

Hari and Sam
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