Press Release

CNES and ESA back outreach initiative aimed at modernizing science teaching

By SpaceRef Editor
June 15, 2001
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On Saturday 23 June 2001 at 11.30 a.m., CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) and the European Space Agency
(ESA) will be hosting in their joint pavilion at the Paris Air Show the signing of a memorandum of understanding
(MoU) to give young people from all countries the opportunity to go on Azur Astro Espace science discovery breaks.
The MoU will be signed by representatives from the French Ministry of Education, CNES, ESA, the Côte d’Azur
Observatory, French aeronautic and astronautical association AAAF, Alcatel Space Industries and the PARSEC
association.

Azur Astro Espace science discovery breaks are organized by PARSEC, an association founded in 1986 to promote
science outreach and teaching, particularly in the fields of astronomy, space and physics.

The initiative is run in close partnership with the French Ministry of Education, CNES, ESA, the Côte d’Azur Observatory,
AAAF and Alcatel Space Industries. It is also backed by the Conseil Général des Alpes Maritimes and the Conseil Régional
Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur. Discovery breaks are led by astronomers, astronautical researchers and engineers, and are held
close to the Alcatel Space Industries facility in Cannes, southern France, at the Côte d’Azur Observatory and the Astrorama site
near Monaco.

Since its national launch in 1994, the initiative has been extended to cover all age groups from the first year of primary school
through to university. The MoU to be signed on 23 June is intended to broaden the reach of discovery breaks
internationally, thus allowing children of different nationalities and cultures to get a closer insight into the world of science,
with real scientists as their guide. To this end, a course for teachers from France, Germany and Italy has been organized for
October this year to kick off the training programme in preparation for these international breaks.

Members of the press who would like to attend the signing and interview the partners should contact the PARSEC
association directly on +33 (0)4 93 85 85 48.

A typical four-day discovery break includes visits to the observatories at Nice and Calern, a tour of the
Alcatel Space Industries facility in Cannes and two trips to Astrorama, where pupils get hands-on
experience using telescopes for day and night observation.

The break also covers aspects of geology, giving children a chance to visit the limestone caves at Caussols,
to try their hand at potholing and to learn about local history, in particular the village of Perinaldo, the seat
of the Cassini family.

Engineers, astronomers and researchers also run a range of additional activity modules. Breaks are open
to one or two classes at a time, i.e. up to 60 pupils plus accompanying adults.

A few stats

The initiative has been a great success so far, with 63 classes having attended discovery breaks.

1999: 14 classes, 385 pupils, 1,670 activity nights.

2000: 10 classes, 216 pupils and 1,343 activity nights.

2001: 7 classes, 195 pupils, 1,625 activity nights.

In all, 1,685 pupils have taken part since the initiative was launched.

PARSEC contact

Jean-Louis Heudier, Director, +33 (0)4 93 85 85 58

The www.astrorama.net website features live news and images during each break and allows parents to contact their children.

CNES press contact: Sandra Laly

ESA press contact: Brigitte Kolmsee

SpaceRef staff editor.