Einstein Schools logo showing profile of Einstein and a female youth

Learning and Communicating about Gravity in Astronomy

What is the Einstein Schools Programme?

Solar Eclipses 1919 & 2019

  • Possible Project for Einstein Schools: Investigate the Eclipse 100 Years ago that verified Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The Eddington expedition of 1919 changed our understanding of gravity and space time. See this New York Times article to get started: The Eclipse that Revealed the Universe.
  • Watch the May 29, 2019 Ceremonies – 100 Anniversary of Eclipse Expeditions in the country of São Tomé and Príncipe and in Sobral, Brazil
  • Save the Date: July 2, 2019 – Watch Eclipse in Chile and Argentina, with schools in Argentina and Chile
  • Solar Eclipse Resources

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 fascinating force of gravity, which acts across the universe. 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.

Join schools from around the world that are working to become certified Einstein Schools:

Poster: Experience an eclipse in a whole new wayThe International Astronomical Union is based on collaboration. So is the Einstein Schools Programme. Once a school becomes an Einstein School, the school can communicate and work with other Einstein Schools in the world. Together, they can discuss what they have done. They can talk about gravity in astronomy and discuss their creative projects. These discussions about the nature of gravity, black holes and other compact objects, the detection of gravity waves, and whether light can be affected by gravity are an important part of the programme. We hope that these discussions will help to foster the talent of the students participating in the Einstein Schools Programme.

What are the goals of the project?

As an IAU100 Global Project, the Einstein Schools Programme is designed to help students and teachers in the following ways:

  • Help students work in creative groups
  • Provide a set of activities and resources for teachers about gravity and eclipses for their classrooms
  • Provide a vehicle for them to learn from students and teachers in other countries
  • Connect classes to worldwide celebrations of science such as the 100th anniversary of the 1919 eclipse on May 29, 2019
  • Connect classes to world science events, such as the July 2, 2019 total solar eclipse in Chile and Argentina
  • Support teachers in using remotely operated telescopes, so they can observe objects such gravitational lenses and the center of our galaxy.

The project has a goal of reaching schools in the 100 countries that participate in the International Astronomical Union centennial celebrations.

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, books, and articles 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:

“The Deflection of Starlight due to Gravity” on a wall of a science museum in Leiden, the Netherlands. Credit: S. Pompea, NOAO/AURA/NSF

2 Discuss with your team which topic is the most interesting to you. You can pick a topic from this list or come up with your own topic or investigation.

Some sample topics are:

  • What are the predictions made in Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity?
  • How were Einstein’s ideas tested during the eclipse of 1919?
  • How do objects orbit under the influence of gravity?
  • 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 works now, or didn’t exist at all?
  • What is it like to be near a black hole?
  • Could the Earth be pulled into a black hole?
  • How are black holes depicted in movies?

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 and discuss this with your team. What is the end goal? Be realistic in how long it will take you. You should also decide the roles of each team member. Provide a detailed description of what the final product of your work will look like.

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

6 Apply to become a certified Einstein School. We will have the application available here soon.

Once you have been accepted as an Einstein School, you will receive a certificate and flag and have access to telescopes so you can go observe some interesting objects.

7 Connect to other Einstein Schools. Once you have become an Einstein School, you can begin your work with other Einstein Schools around the world.

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.

Resources for TeachersTales of the Modern Astronomer cover

Current Research

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.