AstroSense is a project which works on making astronomy accessible. It aims to build an inclusive environment in astronomy. Led by the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), AstroSense integrates different perception mechanisms to explore data in new ways. This is beneficial for all scientists, as it allows for in-depth analysis of the data from different perspectives. Accessibility is a multidimensional concept; it goes beyond the availability of information. Among many things It involves: 1) the inclusion of different learning styles and methods of understanding across a broad spectrum, 2) access to opportunities for progress 3) access to resources to mention some. At the core of the work done under AstroSense is using an evidence-based approach to develop accessibility at all aspects that are natural of the field of astronomy – symmetrically for outreach, didactic to professionals. We treat human development as paramount to achieve knowledge needs and technological progress of accessibility. The ceaseless efforts to perform in scientific fields has to be in balance with the rewards gained in science. AstroSense goes beyond accommodation to support and enhance the opportunities of every interested individual to perform at her or his own maximum.
Astrosense is honoured to collaborate hand on hand with the Inspiring Stars Project of the international Astronomical Union. Echoing Inspiring Stars https://sites.google.com/oao.iau.org/inspiringstars/about initiative, Astrosense seeks to actively foster international collaborations to promote, motivate, address and support initiatives for inclusion in science.
Working with Schools
There are multiple projects in progress under AstroSense. Foremost is a collaboration with the Athlone School for the Blind in Cape Town. The collaboration involves developing an inclusive astronomy course to improve the performance and interest of students in mathematics and science. It also involves the creation of a model for teacher training in accessibility, while providing practical experience to teachers to enhance and maximise student performance and interest. This work also falls under the IAU’s Commission C1, which deals with Astronomy Education and Development.
This work is guided by research on performance strategies, learning modalities and perception modes for astronomy, and is implemented in outreach programs from the primary to university aspects and profesional research. The modalities developed through rigorous perception experiments in data analysis serve as a motivation for other natural sciences to become more inclusive.
Work is underway on improving accessibility to the same quantity and quality of information from astronomical databases, bibliographic sources and textbooks.
Collaboration with researchers on how to explore data using sensorial perception, based on perception and training experiments, contributes to the development of accessible data analysis. A number of postgraduate students around the world are involved in AstroSense research in one way or another. In particular, using different modalities to explore astronomy datasets and convey astronomy information.
C.A.R.D.I.S:Tactile 3D Grid: Coordinates and Relative Dimension in Space (CARDIS), author Dr.Kathy DeGioia Eastwood, available in the following link: C.A.R.D.I.S.