by Abi Ashton

Our international team, Leiden University’s Universe Awareness, will launch an exciting Kickstarter campaign in one week to raise funds for sharing astronomy education resources with communities around the world. This is the next step in the highly successful Universe in a Box project and aims to expand the network for this dynamic and collaborative educational resource.

Children across the globe find space the most interesting school topic but educators often lack the resources and training to engage kids in this exciting subject. Universe in a Box is a physical toolbox for teachers and educators that makes teaching astronomy and space sciences to 4–10 year old children effective, engaging and fun.


Universe in a Box was an original concept of Cecilia Scorza of the German Haus der Astronomie. Development of the box began in 2010 and it was in use by February 2011. Training feedback on these early boxes was positive and both teachers and students were enthusiastic about the workshops.

By the beginning of 2012, Universe in Box was ready for newer markets with similar needs, it caught the attention of UNAWE because it resonated with their mission of inquiry-based, interdisciplinary and cultural content. A production and distribution model was researched to bring Universe in a Box to UNAWE’s expansive international network as well as ensuring continual development and improvement of the resource.

The next step was the production and shipping of 50 prototype Universe in a Boxes to thirty countries. All fifty prototypes were, again, incredibly well received. Educators from across the globe, including India, Poland and South Africa, found the materials attractive and easy to implement. The content included in Universe in a Box matches the curricula in most countries and the activity book and materials come in a format that is easy to localise and reproduce

Earlier this year, 1000 boxes crammed with models of the solar system, activity books, constellation viewers and globes arrived in Leiden. We’ve already begun the mammoth task of distributing these to astronomers and educators around the world but want to be able to send boxes to underprivileged communities as well as those who can afford to meet shipping costs.


Our Kickstarter campaign runs from 6th May until the 4th June and aims to raise at least €15,000. This money will be used to develop, distribute and train teachers in the resource: Universe in a Box. We want to send 150 of these boxes to underprivileged schools around the world and provide training (face-to-face and online) for teachers in its implementation. The boxes currently in circulation receive lots of positive feedback and it has been really satisfying to receive emails and photos telling us how the box is being used with children around the world.

To find out more go to the where we will post info on you can share, pledge, and receive astronomy education resources. With your pledge we send the boxes to where they're needed most: underprivileged schools around the world, building a global network of education communities. You can also email [email protected] for any further questions.


Abi in DelftAbi Ashton graduated in Biology from the University of Aberdeen and has been communicating science to various audiences ever since. From prosthetics to engineering to physiology to ecology, her variety of communication and training experiences combined with a curiosity in astronomy led her to an internship with the International UNAWE office last November. Since then she has been working on the development and distribution of Universe in a Box with Jaya Ramchandani and Pedro Russo and has been amazed with the breadth of the of the global astronomy outreach community.


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