30 October 2019
In the attendance and under the patronage of His Excellency Prof. Hamid M.K. Al Naimiy, Chancellor of the University of Sharjah, General Director of the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Sciences and Technology (SAASST), and President of the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences, SAASST organized an Astronomy Research Education Workshop. This came in collaboration with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the UAE Space Agency (UAESA). The Workshop aims to bring together astronomers and astronomy teachers in the UAE and the region within a single forum to discuss the development of astronomy education. The Workshop covered developments in education in terms of sound scientific research and recent trends in teaching astronomy in light of new technologies and technological developments in this sector such as smart rooms, mobile learning and social media. The Workshop serves as a platform for space and astronomy teachers to exchange ideas and methods on how to make astronomy available to all students by providing accurate advice to enter the field and direct them to future careers in space technologies that support the global space sector.
The Astronomy Research Education Workshop covered several themes including an overview of astronomical research education, applications of augmented reality technology in astronomy, teaching of astronomy for non-scientific disciplines, international programs and projects and cooperation in astronomy education, and mobile learning applications in astronomy. This workshop falls under the umbrella of the IAU Commission C1, which is committee that seeks to promote, develop and improve astronomy education and learning at all academic levels around the world through various projects and events that disseminate information on astronomical and space education. The Commission includes four working groups established to realize specific objectives of C1: Astronomy Competitions for Secondary School Students, Astronomy Education Research & Methods, Astronomy Education Resources (AstroEDU), and Network for Astronomy School Education (NASE).
Prof. Paulo Bretones, President of the IAU Commission C1, attended the Workshop along with Prof. Michael Fitzgerald, Secretary of Commission C1; Prof. Mashhoor Al Wardat, SAASST Deputy General Director for Academic Affairs; Dr. Randa As'ad, American University in Sharjah; Dr. Ilias Fernini, SAASST Deputy General Director for Research Laboratories and Sharjah Observatory; as well as a number of faculty members, students, and space sciences and astronomy enthusiasts.
In his opening remarks, His Excellency the Chancellor welcomed the attendees and expressed his happiness for the continuous cooperation of the Academy with the International Astronomical Union and the UAE Space Agency in organizing awareness and education activities in the field of space and astronomy in the UAE. He then introduced the University of Sharjah, headed by His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of the University of Sharjah. He pointed out that the University is one of the largest universities in the country in terms of the number of students and programs offered as well as the variety of research institutes and centers it houses, and occupies an advanced ranking according to the latest rankings of international universities. He stressed that the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Science and Technology, aims to spread awareness of the importance of the space sector and astronomical scientific culture, developing qualified national cadres in this field, promoting scientific research in space science and astronomy and the development of peaceful space technologies, and contributing to the national space sector and scientific projects. This in addition to focusing on the development of local and international partnerships for the development of the national space sector through the provision of research laboratories, unique astronomical observatories, a modern Planetarium and a space exhibition that showcases the history of the universe and theories of its origin and end.
He also addressed the ongoing discussion between the International Astronomical Union and the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Science and Technology, which is the regional representative of the IAU in the United Arab Emirates, with the aim of establishing a regional office in the Academy to be part of five regional offices spread around the world and working on methods of teaching space science and astronomy scientific research in this field. This in addition to the organization of workshops, seminars and events in cooperation with the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and other international institutions involved in space and scientific research programs to support this goal. This is a unique opportunity, he continued, that establishes the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Science and Technology at the University of Sharjah and the UAE as major contenders and participants in the global astronomy, space sciences and technology sector.
His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council, Ruler of Sharjah, and President of the University of Sharjah, established SAASST as a national development project supporting the UAE space sector with its research projects and the development of space technology, in order to achieve His Highness's vision of producing scientific research that serves and develops society.
The Academy is one of the most comprehensive in the UAE and the region covering education and scientific research in astronomy, space science and technology. It is also working on plans to expand space and astronomy education and research programs by offering Master's and PhD programs such as the Master's program in Space Sciences and Astronomy, as well as the construction of a new observatory in Maliha. This makes SAASST the ideal location for the Astronomy Research Education Regional Office of the International Astronomical Union in the country and the region.
The Sharjah Academy for Astronomy, Space Sciences and Technology at the University of Sharjah is home to a number of specialized laboratories and centers in astronomy and space sciences scientific research such as the CubeSat Laboratory, the Meteorites Center, the Space Weather and Ionosphere Laboratory, the Radio Astronomy Laboratory, and the optical and radio observatories. . Each of these laboratories and centers works to achieve its research objectives, and also gives university students the opportunity to contribute to their research and learn from the experiences at the Academy.