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ISSUE 27 - March 2020

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Ad Astra Academy: Using Space Exploration to Promote Student Learning and Motivation in the City of God, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (page 05)
Lyra, W.; Rice, M.; Adler-Belendez, D.; Jacobson, N.; Pantelic, A.; Garcia, K.; Sattler Cassara, L.; Crow, C.; Hayne, P.; Marlow, J.


Motivation is a primary determinant of a student’s academic success, but in many under-resourced educational contextsaround the world, opportunities to develop motivation are lacking. In the City of God neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, we, a group of scientists and science educators, enacted the Ad Astra Academy, a brief, interactive intervention targeting teenage students at risk of dropping out of school. Students participated in an immersive five-day programme, followed by a six-month lecture series, before completing the second, immersive three-day programme. Participants learned how to use the scientific method in real-world settings to generate new knowledge. In order to consolidate these knowledge gains and bolster the inspirational power of the programme, capstone projects empowered participants to speak with NASA mission managers and, in some cases, acquire never-before-seen images of Mars. While longitudinal study and a more robust sample size are required to bolster conclusions about the efficacy of our approach, initial results suggest that Ad Astra programmes significantly enhance self-efficacy and science-oriented career ambitions.

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