What do you do:
I am the Education and Outreach Specialist for CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS), based at our headquarters at Marsfield in Sydney, Australia. CASS operates a number of radio telescopes around Australia and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex for NASA.
When did you first learn about GTTP:
I first learnt about GTTP ahead of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 as I was on the national working group planning for the activities in Australia.
What was the first GTTP workshop you took part in:
I took part in the GTTP workshop ahead of the ASP meeting in Millbrae (San Francisco) in 2009. I did another workshop at the 2012 ASP Meeting in Tucson.
Why did you decide to organise GTTP workshops for local teachers/educators:
I’ve been running teacher workshops in astronomy across Australia for many years. My annual 3-day “Astronomy from the Ground Up!” teacher workshop held at our Parkes Observatory was already covering the material required for a GTTP event so it was a logical fit. We now have a growing group of GTTP-trained teachers in Australia which is really pleasing to see.
What tools/methods do you use in your training sessions:
With my training sessions I like to provide a variety of sessions, a mix of simple hand-on activities requiring minimal specialist equipment, some that involve visualisation or online tools (free where possible) and some talks or sessions with professional astronomers keen to discuss their work and life as scientists. Good coffee on arrival is also an essential requirement of any workshop!
Advice for teachers out there:
Most teachers have no or little formal training in astronomy or how to teach it effectively. I encourage them to not be afraid to get started, not think that you have to know it all, realise there are many people keen to support and resources to assist you and be prepared to learn and explore alongside with your students.
Tips for other GTTP ambassadors around the world:
One of the great strengths of the GTTP Ambassadors is a critical mass of supportive and enthusiastic people. We should share experiences and resources rather than all reinventing our own wheels. Astronomy is a global science and GTTP is a global science education and outreach initiative. Ongoing communication, both formal and informal is the key.
What do you do in your spare time:
I don’t have too much spare time at present as I always seem to be travelling to or from somewhere. When I get the chance I love to go paddling in my sea kayak. I’ve been fortunate to have some great trips paddling in Scotland and Greece in the last few years. Historical wargaming with miniature figurines is my other hobby.I enjoy reading, especially history. I love seeing ballet and managed to subscribe to the Australian Ballet this year, forcing me to plan well ahead.
Check out Universe @ CSIRO blog for more of Robert’s efforts.