FOR RELEASE: 9:00 a.m. EDT, June 1, 2003
 

BRINGING THE STARS (AND THE UNIVERSE!) CLOSER TO HOME


For the first time ever, teachers, students and the general public will have access to a wide variety of Canadian astronomical resources, from what's in the sky tonight, to complete lesson plans and group activities. The Canadian Astronomy Education Website is being unveiled today to the Canadian Astronomical Society in Waterloo, Ontario. The bilingual website, designed and created by Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) Education Coordinator Ms. Heather Scott, and Mr. Travis Whyte, web developer and founder of Educational Media Technologies in Edmonton Alberta, is the first of its kind in Canada, putting astronomy news and resources within reach of the public.

Originally targeting teachers of astronomy, the CASCA Education Committee sought to bridge the gap between textbooks and professional astronomical periodicals, providing tested classroom activities, simple demonstrations, and reliable online resources at the level of teachers? classes. "With the increase of astronomy in today's elementary and secondary school curricula, teachers are in need of quality, Canadian resources and material," says Ms. Scott. "This website will be the ultimate resource for teachers and their students."

The site was then expanded to include youth organizations, such as the Girl Guides, Boy Scouts and other youth groups with an interest in astronomy. The Guides and Scouts can use the site to research their astronomy badge, while other group leaders may use it to plan a stargazing session or stay abreast of the latest astronomy news.

The needs of professional astronomers are to be addressed as the development of the site progresses. Finally, amateur astronomers and the general public have been included in the website?s target audience. Such people may be interested in general astronomy news, astronomy-related activities within the community, or background information on telescopes and astrophotography. The website will also feature several interactive elements, including a message and discussion board, guestbook and keyword search. Features such as "Canadian Astronomer of the Month" and a changing "gee-whiz" page will bring the latest in Canadian research to the public. "

The prevailing philosophy behind the website design has been one of ease --? says Mr. Whyte, ?ease of access on the part of the user, and ease of maintenance over the long term." To ensure the site stays true to its goals, remaining fresh and relevant to its audience, the developers have included a user survey. Visitors are encouraged to respond.

The Canadian Astronomy Education Webpage is now available to be previewed at http://www.cascaeducation.ca. This innovative project has been made possible by generous support from the Canadian Astronomical Society, the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Promoscience Program, and the Ontario Ministry of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation.

For more information:

Ms. Heather R. Scott
CASCA Education Coordinator
Phone: (905) 687-6962
Email: heather_scott@ridley.on.ca

or

Mr. Travis Whyte
Web Developer and Founder,
Educational Media Technologies 
Phone: (780) 440-0267
Email: tgwhyte@telusplanet.net