St Joseph’s welcomes Professor Francis Chun from the US Air Force Academy

Professor Francis Chun from the US Air Force Academy (USAFA) visited St Joseph’s school in Northam on the 22nd of March to discuss astronomy, space science and the issues surrounding space debris.

Since the establishment of a cooperative Research and Development Agreement between the USAFA, the University of WA and CEWA, with CEWA being the education connection to secondary students, St Joseph’s students have had access to one of the incredible Falcon Telescopes located in Western Australia, at the Gravity Discovery Centre at Gingin.

Professor Francis Chun’s visit forms a part of one of the amazing opportunities that has come from this agreement, with future involvement in First Light projects (the first time a telescope has been used for imaging).

In having access to this incredible technology, students will be able to conduct authentic research, by submitting research proposals that outlines the details of what the object is that they are targeting, its location, time of the evening or day.

The students at St Joseph’s School found the opportunity very exciting and challenging. They were able to use the telescope to find suitable objects, and identify their location in the night sky from other areas around the Earth. They needed to choose the correct exposure time and associated technical aspects, as well as submit a full scientific proposal, which challenged and engaged their scientific communication.

Mark Gargano, Curriculum Coordinator (Teaching and Learning) said “I found it really generated a lot of discussion and interest in astronomy, with the students gaining a large amount of knowledge with the night sky, and very specifically their astronomical target, gaining advanced skills and knowledge many and associated areas, such as mathematics, being able to understand location and then being able to point the telescope at the exact location in the sky.

The students at St Joseph’s School are looking forward to being further involved next term with the First Light Project for the Gingin node, and also collaborating with other student researchers and professional astronomers as they develop further proposals for long term research in specific areas of study.

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