ALMA Works Hand-in-Hand with Teachers

4 September, 2018

Close to 40 teachers from different regions of Chile attended a two-day workshop as part of the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP) on STEM and Astronomy education at the ALMA offices in Santiago. In parallel, two Chilean teachers from San Pedro de Atacama just returned from Australia, where they attended an English language teaching program.

“Teachers are a critical driver for children’s education. By improving their pedagogical skills, we are triggering a positive impact on a large number of kids,” explains Valeria Foncea, ALMA Education and Public Outreach Officer.

ALMA has supported English and STEM education in the nearby communities of the observatory, even before its inauguration. One of these initiatives was the creation of Likan English Network SPA, a group of English teachers in San Pedro de Atacama that meets to improve their pedagogical skills. Since 2016, ALMA has funded an annual grant for two teachers from the network to travel to Australia and attend an English teaching program at the University of Queensland.

The 2018 promotion just returned to Chile, after spending three weeks in Queensland where they also attended the ‘Leadership Through Innovation Teacher Training’ mini-conference, among other activities.

“I was the only one from South America, so I learned a lot about different cultures like China, Japan, and the Philippines, in addition to Australia,” says Josefina Ruiz Tagle who teaches English at the San Pedro de Atacama’s school E-26, close to the ALMA observatory. “I also had the opportunity to visit two Australian schools, which gave me new ideas that I can now apply in my own classroom.”

The other teacher grantee was Oscar Añasco, who works in multiple schools in Solor, Cámar, Socaire, Peine, and Rio Grande, small villages close to San Pedro and ALMA.

The Deputy Director of the University of Queensland Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education, Mr. Phillip Fredericks, is happy to collaborate with ALMA in this “vital project and to continue working with ALMA to contribute to the development of human capital in San Pedro de Atacama.”

Shortly after the end of this teacher trip, another activity with teachers was held within ALMA’s offices in Santiago on August 25 and September 1. In coordination with Associated Universities Inc. (AUI), 36 teachers from different regions of Chile gathered for the seventh version of the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP).

GTTP is one of the original projects that began in the International Year of Astronomy in 2009 and is active in more than one hundred countries. In Chile, it was AUI, ALMA’s North American partner, that started working with GTTP as a study program for elementary school science teachers and high school physics teachers. The objective of this program is for teachers to learn how to use different low-cost or free astronomical resources that they can then apply to their students’ classroom learning.

Teachers traveled from all over Chile, including Puerto Aysén, 1,600 kilometers south of Santiago, to learn these techniques at the ALMA office during these days, where they also had the chance to interact with the astronomer José Gallardo.

“GTTP is a program that goes beyond simple practice with hard data. It awakens curiosity and desire for knowledge among the teachers,” said Professor Carolina Guzmán, from Emelina Urrutia School of El Monte, who was very happy to attend.

Carolina is one of the 206 Chilean teachers who have been trained by GTTP, benefitting more than 16,000 schoolchildren in public and private schools.

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Additional Information

ALMA is a partnership between ESO (on behalf of its European Member States), NSF (USA), and NINS (Japan); together with NRC (Canada), MOST and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO, and NAOJ.