Einstein Schools logo showing profile of Einstein and a young girl

Learning and Communicating about Gravity in Astronomy

What is the Einstein Schools Programme?

Poster: Experience an eclipse in a whole new way The Einstein Schools Programme is a project of the International Astronomical Union, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. The Einstein Schools Programme will help schools and students across the world explore the latest discoveries in astronomy. Students can learn about current research on black holes, gravitational lenses, and gravitational waves as they explore the importance of gravity and its effect on stars, galaxies, and light. Students can also learn about how Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, one of the towering achievements of 20th-century physics, was confirmed 100 years ago during a total solar eclipse. In that same year, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) was formed to encourage scientific collaboration among astronomers worldwide. This project is part of that worldwide celebration of the formation of the IAU.

Following the collaborative spirit that is the basis of the IAU, the Einstein Schools Programme will also allow schools worldwide to collaborate. The schools can share their studies of gravity in astronomy and discuss their creative approaches to displaying what they have learned about the nature of gravity, black holes and other compact objects, the detection of gravity waves, and whether light can be affected by gravity. The Einstein School program is designed to help schools foster an interest in science and technology and to cultivate science-talented youth in countries across the world.

What are the goals of the project?

As an IAU100 Global Project, the Einstein Schools Programme is designed to encourage students in a club, class, or classes to take a creative approach to learning about the latest advances in gravitational wave astronomy and compact objects such as black holes. The project has a goal of reaching schools in the 100 countries that participate in the International Astronomical Union centennial celebrations. Our goals are:

  • Increasing student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) subjects by enabling them to do science through an outlet unique to them that they enjoy, relying on their own personal strengths or interests.
  • Encouraging a deeper interest in the role that gravity plays in our universe
  • Encouraging collaboration among schools worldwide
  • Providing access to observations of gravitationally important objects, using robotic telescopes operated by schools
  • In the spirit of IAU, the project emphasizes a creative worldwide collaboration among schools.
Poster: Poster: Taking you to the edge of the Universe

Who runs the project?

The Einstein Schools Programme is part of the larger IAU100 theme, 100 Years of General Relativity: Eclipse. The project leaders come from diverse countries: the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United States of America, and all have an extensive background in astronomy education and science communication. The project leaders have led educational projects worldwide during the 2009 International Year of Astronomy and the 2015 International Year of Light.

If you have any questions or comments about the Einstein Schools Programme, feel free to send us an email.

How can my school become an Einstein School?

The process is straightforward:

1 Form a Team! Talk to people at the school about the project to see if you can interest a diverse team of students and teacher advisors who want to learn about gravity and astronomy. The team can include students from different grade levels and teachers from any area: science, of course, but also mathematics, art, writing, drama, music, and other subject disciplines. The more diverse the team, the better. Look around for a local mentor-perhaps a scientist or engineer.

To get an idea of the topics that are addressed in Einstein Schools, look at these videos that introduce Einstein and his work on gravity. We will send you some more video and other resources later in the project.

The lead teacher should register now to get notices and updates.

Use the posters to generate interest with your students and to share the Einstein Schools Programme with your colleagues:

2 Discuss with your team which topic is the most interesting to you. You may want to explore them all before picking one. We will send you some additional resources to help you get your research started. We will have internet-based mentors available to help, if you cannot find a local mentor.

  • What are the predictions made in Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and how can they be tested?
  • How can gravity create compact objects like black holes and neutron stars?
  • How are gravitational waves created and how can they be detected?
  • What if gravity was very different in the way it worked, or didn’t exist at all?

3 Start exploring! Begin with the resources we provide for you. Later, you will find a creative way to communicate the results of your explorations on a topic. Some possibilities include:

  • Make an animation (e.g., stop motion, clay, etc.)
  • Create a story and record it or illustrate it
  • Design a game, app, or simulation
  • Create cartoons or graphic novels
  • Write and perform a song
  • Design an experiment
  • Choreograph a dance
  • Create a model
  • Design a Toy
  • Create a drama or debate
  • Create a work of art
  • Make a short film or an advertisement
  • Write a poem or an essay

4 Create a plan of what you want to do. Share your plan with another Einstein School, to get feedback.

5 Carry out your plan. When you finish, you can display your creative work for other schools around the world to see.

What are the benefits of becoming an Einstein School?

Poster: Visit a Black HoleSome benefits include:

  • Getting access to curated, high-quality internet resources and links to help in background research for your communication campaign, as you are becoming an Einstein School.
  • Identity and recognition as an “Einstein School” with an Einstein School “care package” with banners and special Einstein School posters that can be printed and displayed.
  • A special website for schools around the world to share ideas, progress on their projects, and plans for using robotic telescopes together.
  • Access to a mentor: We will work to line up professional astronomers and other mentors to help your continuing efforts if there is no local mentor available. These mentors can work with the projects on-line and can suggest new areas for exploration.
  • The opportunity for schools around the world to team together to use robotic telescopes in order to take pictures or do research on the most interesting compact objects in the universe.

What else should I know about the program?

  • It is customizable and flexible.
  • It is a Global project of the International Astronomical Union 100 Years Celebration.
  • Students at secondary schools (middle schools and high schools) can all participate. Generally the program is for students who are 11 years and older.
  • It is not a curriculum, but an interdisciplinary project for all students.
  • There will be opportunities for advanced collaborations with schools around the world, and it is expected that connections made between Einstein Schools and participating individuals during this program will continue beyond this program. The universe is the limit!
  • For Einstein Schools interested in the next eclipse, collaborations with schools in Chile and Argentina may be particularly important, as the next total solar eclipse is Juy 2, 2019 in northern Chile and Argentina, and again in December 2020 in southern Chile and Argentina.
  • There will be opportunities for highlighting breaking astronomical news and events such as the collision of black holes or neutron stars at great distances.

Current Research