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Turning Invention Into Innovation

A conversation with Michael Paolucci, founder of Slooh and launch of The Online Telescope For Families

Slooh, the only organization offering live online telescope feeds to students, is now making its award-winning learning platform and network of online telescopes accessible to families worldwide. Described by educators as “the complete package” that is truly “out of this world,” The Online Telescope for Families enables families to explore, capture, and analyze more than 1,000 real-world space objects and events using professional-grade technology together – all from the comfort of their homes.

In conversation with Kevin Hogan of the Hogan Reportan online briefing on the state-of-play in educationMichael Paolucci, founder of Slooh, discusses the process of turning an invention into innovation for better STEM education.

“We want to make space exploration accessible to everyone, everywhere,” said Paolucci. “For less than $10 a month or $99/year, The Online Telescope for Families provides parents and children alike with an engaging – and fun – learning experience they can participate in together. Rather than having to buy expensive equipment that will end up collecting dust, families can now explore space just like real astronomers as they embark on starry expeditions, view and capture dynamic phenomena, and ignite their love for space.”

The gamified platform has received international attention for its easy-to-use interface and powerful tools that are providing ways of interacting with technology and the universe that has never been seen before. "It's such a cool innovation and idea" exclaimed Hogan, "one of the great things about companies like your own, is it's in the early stages with just these radical innovative ideas that can really shake up a science class".

More star art. It seems like I have great luck "creating" star art when trying to capture stars for "The Life & Death of Stars" quest! This the B8 V Main Sequence star Bharani, showing it's amazing ability to hang a hard left while being photographed!
star art produced by a star moving across the sky

For Families, this is the chance to take learning and exploration beyond the classroom in a way that is experiential, continual, and exciting. Memories of stargazing, learning how to cook a family recipe, and watching a campfire snap and crackle are experiences we keep with us for a lifetime. Some of us experienced hands-on telescope explorations, whilst others were pointed out particularly bright stars by our parents and were amazed to learn that that small bright dot could be a planet. Whatever that experience may or may not be, many have wondered what it would be like to explore the night sky from the back garden.

Making that happen can be somewhat overwhelming, particularly if you haven't grown up around avid stargazers. Light pollution, telescope set up, cloudy weather, cold nights, and absent-minded kids combine to make a dream of showing your kids a galaxy into an IKEA project with the wrong set of instructions, 3 screws missing, and names for parts that make you question if Swedish is even a language at all.

The Online Telescope for Families provides a solution, giving up to five family members control of a network of professional-grade online telescopes located in the Canary Islands and Chile. Families can book time on a telescope to view a specific space object or event or join other families in the Slooh community that have already reserved time to view and photograph astronomical phenomena.

The Milky Way's Doppelganger Quest placement card

During self-directed or guided exploration, families also have access to 50+ Quests. These learning activities follow a learning progression, beginning with Starter Quests that enable novices to easily start exploring and cover a range of topics from basic astronomy to the myths, history, and magic that can be found through the telescopes. Quests challenge families to use the telescopes to collect and analyze data to form their own conclusions while enabling them to explore space and learn important astronomical concepts.

Accessing the universe through telescopic portals has never been easier (or cheaper!). With students across the globe capturing images, completing Quests, and printing personalized posters outside of the classroom. Providing kids access to meaningful educational tools goes a long way in inspiring and fostering children's natural curiosity that may last as long as our own memories of campfires, fireflies, and a family recipe that never quite turns out the way grandma made it.


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