Project Objectives

The project aims at making the natural sciences more popular by re-establishing their basic principle of observation, experiment and reference to existing knowledge. All natural sciences are meant to give answers about the world, but we often forget which questions were asked in the first place. So the sciences have become abstract, often unpopular school subjects without any plausible relevance in the real world; to some degree the same can often be said about the social sciences like sociology, history, philosophy and even the arts.

Our objectives are easily available objects to investigate by observation and experiment which require and offer connection and further inquiry to reveal their full meaning. The nightly sky has always been something to raise people’s and pupils’ curiosity. There is a vague knowledge that people used it to find their way, to measure the time, to explain the world either in terms of mythology, astrology or astronomy.

Various approaches aim at connecting our topic “Stars in Europe” to the images and common knowledge of our students.

There are three major fields of activities.

The first concerns astronomy. Students make themselves familiar with observational techniques and basic concepts of astronomy, then agree on certain stars and start making observations, increasingly in a coordinated way, so they decide on specific dates (or periods of observation) and stars to set up star charts, which are exchanged among each other and used for establishing common procedure and discerning differences in the results. As this project is about cross-curricular, connected thinking and researching, there will also be investigations into the mythology behind certain constellations (e.g. Orion), their significance in early cultures (e.g. the Pleiades), the tools they were using (telescope, astrolabe, sun dials etc.) and the ends they were using their observations for (navigation, calendar, measuring periods of time).

The second field of interest is the night, its perception and the physical differences of nights in different spots, places and regions, and the significance for life, a lack or abundance of light and noise can have. This part of the project again is based on collecting data, organizing and comparing it. But here, the further investigation into and experimentation with variable features can and should evolve from students’ questions concerning the topic (do plants “sleep”, how does additional light affect them; does nocturnal wildlife seek or avoid artificial light etc.).

The third field opens into the social sciences by working with the metaphorical stars, the political, social, artistic, sportive role models, their real lives and the images in people’s minds to turn them into stars. This requires a close encounter with these stars’ biographies but also a keen look at the media that created these images. With the basic question in mind, which features redeem admiration, a catalogue of structural similarities for each country and for different periods of time is to be established. In a second phase, a comparison of the findings will offer criteria to name and better understand vague feelings of differences. Like the night, a star will look slightly different from different perspectives. Understanding these perspectives will actuate intercultural perception.

The arts will be embracing all three fields in the second year when, based on first year’s findings the topic “Stars in Europe” will be the central feature of all arts activities. All schools together are going to gather their products in an exhibition towards the end of the project.


Concrete objectives: