Newton RCUK-SEA -- Capacity Building in STEM to ensure a sustainable community development and a successful astronomical observatory in Timor

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The STEM education and outreach proposed by this project is aimed at strengthening engagement in local education, as well as specifically targeting teachers, by providing them with resources that can be used to underpin the STEM subjects taught in schools. Exposure to the practical applications of STEM and the opportunity to be involved in these directly is expected to encourage young people to pursue higher level education. Furthermore, to be acquainted with a team of real STEM experts will also be an encouraging experience for them. This early stage human capital development is expected to initiate increased economic development in the longer term.

Planned Impact

The astronomy education, along with the STEM education, creates specific context in preserving the environment for astronomical purpose and generates local skilled and knowledgeable human resource in the running of the observatory and astronomical research work. A breakthrough in securing hi-tech jobs will surely encourage more local young people to study and work on STEM topics. This STEM education and training is directed towards teachers and high school students due to the still very low efficacy of education in this area. This two-year project constitutes an important foundation for a long term effort towards a sustainable development by providing thoroughly the basic knowledge, skill, and real STEM ideas applied in specific context: a poor countryside with a prospect of hosting a high-tech astronomical observatory.


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Description Institut Teknologi Bandung 
Organisation University of Technology Brunei
PI Contribution We provide guidance and support for the development of outreach in the West Timor region where the observatory will be built as well as for putting together an optical and radio sky protection plan.
Collaborator Contribution Institut Teknologi Bandung is the main partner in this project. As this is a Newton Funded project, they provide matched funding to the project.
Impact This will be added later.
Start Year 2017
Description Engaging the local population with the astronomical observatory project in West Timor 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This activity was three-fold:
1) Public astronomy night with a talk about astronomy and light pollution in Kupang.
Audience: local population and local school kids. Over 100 persons attended. Also attended by representative from DIPI, which manages the Newton fund project in Indonesia.
Outcome: Change in understanding about the concept of light pollution and actions that can be taken to mitigate it.
2) Site visit of the future optical telescope in West Timor
Audience: met with the local population living in nearby villages. Over 30 people were met. Also attended by representative from DIPI, which manages the Newton fund project in Indonesia.
Outcome: For the villagers: they were happy to notice the importance of the project. Better understanding of the project. For us: better understanding of the challenges faced by the astronomical observatory project. For DIPI: better understanding of the astronomy project and necessity for training and eduction.
3) Meeting with a local politician in charge of the administrative region.
Audience: 1.
Outcome: Ground work to explain the international importance of their astronomical observatory project as well as the need for future regulation on lighting in the area of the observatory.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Workshop at Manchester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop organised at Manchester to launch the collaboration between researchers at Institut Teknologi Bandung and researchers at The University of Manchester. The workshop included presentations by the different attendees, tours of the various relevant facilities (University ground, Jodrell Bank Observatory, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre), focused discussions on specific themes addressing the grant's main goals.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Workshop in Indonesia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact We organised a workshop in Indonesia with our project partner. This workshop consisted of two components:
1) Science lecture at Institut Teknologi Bandung for the local postgraduate physics students
Attendance: 30 students and staff members
Outcome: Familiarise themselves with cutting-edge research in pulsar astrophysics, which might be an area in which they will be able to work in the future if a radio telescope is constructed.

2) Workshop on radio astronomy primarily for undergraduates in physics and physics teaching, as well as postgraduates and staff in Kupang.
Attendance: 40 students and staff members
Outcome: Obtain basic knowledge about fundamental physics principles behind radio astronomy and the uses of a radio antenna. This is the first step to train future teachers in this poor area of the country so that they can educate primary and secondary school students about astronomy and the motivation to build a telescope in the region.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018