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Why Education?

Part of the AAVSO's mission is to "promote scientific research and education using variable star data". Variable star data can be an effective context for interdisciplinary teaching about constellations, stars, geometry, basic statistics and even history.

In the 1990's, the National Science Foundation awarded the AAVSO a grant to produce a formal curriculum package called Hands-On Astrophysics (HOA). HOA used real data from the AAVSO International Database with custom written DOS software to teach about variable stars and data analysis. The content of HOA was updated in 2009, renamed Variable Star Astronomy and placed online. The software has been rewritten and expanded into a Java package called VStar.

In 2009, the National Science Foundation awarded the AAVSO a new Informal Science Education (ISE) grant for the Citizen Sky project. The goal of Citizen Sky is to allow participants to engage in the entire scientific method while helping astronomers study the mysterious eclipse of epsilon Aurigae. The Citizen Sky web site has many projects educators can use both inside and outside the classroom, including activities for the Science Olympiad. It also has a forum and team dedicated to education and public outreach. Both are open to the public.

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