Why Space Matters?
Although many people are fascinated by space, most are relatively unaware of how space technologies pervade their everyday life. From GPS and satellite communications to weather forecasting and monitoring the health of crops or the extent of sea ice, the standard of living we currently enjoy is fundamentally dependent on satellites and space technology. Space is becoming even more important in monitoring the changing climate, particularly in the Canadian North, and for connecting remote communities. Looking beyond Earth, the exploration of space is an innovation driver that not only provides inspiration for youth but generates cutting-edge technologies that are frequently then applied to improving the standard of living on Earth. In parallel, there is an acknowledged critical need for STEM education in Canada.
Unfortunately, as highlighted in a 2018 Ipsos poll “Canadians do not know much about what Canada is doing in space. This causes many to be unsure about what the concrete benefits of space are, despite great pride in past achievements.” Space Matters aims to address this lack of awareness and understanding!
The goal of Space Matters is to use a connected-learning approach to foster dynamic collaborations among schools, out-of-school time programs, STEM expert institutions (e.g., museums, science centres, universities), the private sector, community-based organizations, youth and families, using Space as the connecting topic. Space exploration, perhaps like no other discipline, can ignite interest and motivate youth to appreciate science and technology in their daily lives and to pursue education and careers in the sciences, engineering and high-tech sectors.
Targeting youth and educators across Canada, the objectives of the Space Matters initiative are to:
- Raise awareness of the importance of space to Canadians and how it touches on nearly every aspect of their daily lives;
- Use space as a vehicle to inspire and empower all young people to be engaged with STEM disciplines, and to support those interested in pursing careers in these fields;
- Work with educators to increase their knowledge, skills and enthusiasm for teaching STEM topics to youth;
- Create a community of practice for space educators, that enables resources and lessons learned to be shared, and connect school activities to out-of-school time programs and events.
Who is Space Matters?
The Space Matters initiative was started with a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) PromoScience grant in 2018 to the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration, now the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration (Western Space), at The University of Western Ontario (Western). Space Matters is driven by a group of organizations who together form the Space Matters Collective, led by Drs. Gordon “Oz” Osinski, Isha DeCoito from Western Space, and Dr. Marianne Mader from the Canadian Association of Science Centres.
The Space Matters Collective currently comprises the following organizations:
- Institute for Earth and Space Exploration at the University of Western Ontario. Website
- Canadian Association of Science Centres. Website
- Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Website
- Canada Science and Technology Museum. Website
- Partners in Research Canada. Website
- Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Website
- Space Generation Advisory Council. Website
- Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Website
Space Matters was made possible through funding from NSERC and Western Science: