The Arecibo Observatory Space Academy [AOSA] is an initiative from the scientific community of the Arecibo Observatory to bridge the scientific research and the public engagement efforts done at the observatory. The AOSA started in 2013 as an initiative from the Planetary Radar Research Group in order to continue the efforts of the Saturday Academy Program. From Spring 2011 to Spring 2013 the Saturday Academy Program from the AGMUS Student Development Center served over 80 pre-college students providing them with an opportunity to perform research at the scientific icon of Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory. Through a peer mentoring experience these students worked with undergraduate students in the development of a research project, to be later presented at a symposium along with other 300 students from the Caribbean that participated in similar programs. Although the program ended, the student applications did not. The office of external affairs at the observatory was receiving great amounts of requests for applications to the program. In order to provide continuity to this project and ties with the community the AOSA started its first semester in the Fall 2013 with the support of Arecibo Observatory staff. The Academy currently offers semester long Pre-College research programs on a weekend schedule and has offered teacher training workshops, as well as summer research programs targeted to recent high school graduates transitioning to college. Focusing on the preparation of the next generation of scientists from Puerto Rico through a research mentoring experience has proven to be a successful pipeline for participants to enroll in Science, Mathematics, Technology and Engineering fields. Preparation of new individuals interested in pursuing careers that have a direct application to new emerging markets is fundamental in the preservation of the broad science preformed in this iconic research facility.
1. Foster in every student an interest in science by harnessing their natural curiosity in order to further develop their critical thinking skills.
2. Supplement the student’s STEM education via inquiry-based learning.
3. Immerse students in an ESL (English as a Second Language) environment, further developing their verbal and written presentation skills.