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SKY WATCH: Introducing European Youth in the World of Scientific Research through Interactive Utilisation of a Global Network of Robotic Telescopes

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Learning from the sky

An astronomy-related competition and online portal has encouraged Europeans to embark on intriguing science projects. Such initiatives support a knowledge-based economy and bode well for the future of the continent.

Climate Change and Environment

The skies above the Earth provide much more than a wondrous sight. They represent a real laboratory for physics, astronomy, cosmology and many other disciplines in science. In order to illuminate the younger generation about the nature of the Universe and its mysteries, the EU-funded project 'Introducing European youth in the world of scientific research through interactive utilisation of a global network of robotic telescopes' (Sky Watch) conducted an online competition for the best projects in the field. Through its initiatives, the project encouraged science and technology through astronomy, opening an arena of interaction among schools, research centres and science parks. It rallied young people around events such as Science Days and created an online portal for participants to learn about the skies and participate in the competition. By mid 2005, the year the project was established, over 4,000 people from 53 had countries visited the site. The project partners hailed from Germany, France, Greece, Sweden and the United Kingdom, all supporting local and global efforts to promote the project. Interestingly, it was the Greek public that warmed up most to the project, forming 57 % of visitors to the website, followed by 10 % from the United Kingdom and 6 % from Germany. Statistics also showed that 81 % of the portal's visitors arrived at the site directly and not through other sites, underlining the importance of dissemination and promotion related to Sky Watch. The contest itself saw very strong participation, with 95 teams from 30 countries. Overall, 53 projects were successfully submitted and narrowed down to 11 projects, with two final winners. The contest and portal represented successful examples of how interest in science can be encouraged in the younger generation, contributing to a knowledge-based economy and a better educated youth for Europe.

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