Altair, a project launched by GRAPPA member astronomer Sera Markoff, has been awarded the NWO Diversity Initiative Award. The project introduces primary school children to astronomy and physics. The Diversity Initiative Award is awarded to initiatives that improve diversity in the field. Initiator Prof. Sera Markoff (University of Amsterdam) will receive € 50,000 to help further develop the project.
Markoff wants to use the award to launch Altair+. ‘The idea is to work together with a team of students and volunteers to develop new activities for secondary school pupils, also at the Science Park in Amsterdam. We want to keep in touch with the Altair “graduates”from the primary school by organising annual activities, which also involve other pupils from nearby schools and their parents. This is a step towards a “pre-academic” programme. This will hopefully result in more students with a non-Western background studying at the Science Park!’
The jury was impressed with how the project successfully promotes the sciences to a wide range of communities. Children from various ethnic backgrounds are taught by UvA academics, and their parents are also involved with a range of activities on the university campus. This project reaches 140 children a year. The jury noted that it is remarkable that Markoff launched the initiative alongside her regular work as Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics.