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SPIRIT – Innovation In Modern Astronomy And STEM Skills For The Classroom

SPIRIT is suite of research-grade telescopes provided by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR). These are available to use for free by secondary Western Australian teachers and students. Currently, there are 3 SPIRIT telescopes, including our 1m SPIRIT 6, with plans to expand in the near future. SPIRIT is operated remotely, meaning that anyone with an internet connection can practice modern astronomy, and take deep space images. Images can be scheduled during the school day to be taken when it is dark, or students can use live-viewing and drive the telescopes in real time at night.

Accompanying access to the telescopes are free resources, curriculum linked programs and support from the education and outreach team at ICRAR. The aim of the SPIRIT program is to teach STEM skills through the lens of astronomy and encourage WA students to pursue STEM-based education and careers.

The Impact Of SPIRIT

Research conducted on the impact of using SPIRIT showed that students experience up to a 30% improvement on their perceived self-efficacy in astronomy and STEM based education, as well as up to a 40% improvement on recognising the relevance of science in their day-to-day life after using SPIRIT. This is among many other improvements, including teacher impact, interest in astronomy, ability to use instrumentation, and general astronomical knowledge.

SPIRIT And The Curriculum

SPIRIT can be used in a plethora of ways, and thus fits into many areas of the curriculum. The strongest links being in science- earth and space, physics, science as a human endeavour and science inquiry skills. It also addresses outcomes in digital technologies and maths. SPIRIT can also be used to adopt general capabilities: numeracy, critical and creative thinking, and ICT capabilities as well as cross-curriculum priority Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. Some activities and research tasks that can be undertaken in the classroom include:

  • Colour astrophotography

  • Indigenous astronomy

  • Galaxy morphology and evolution

  • Researching the lifecycle of stars

  • Using Kepler’s 3 rd law of planetary motion to calculate the mass of Jupiter

Find our curriculum linked programs on our website.

How Can I Use SPIRIT?

Using SPIRIT is completely free for WA secondary schools, including school visits. The ICRAR outreach and education team can tailor programs to fit any school context. As the telescopes are remote and accessed via an internet interface, students anywhere in the state can use them. This includes ‘classroom visits’ via a video call platform where necessary.

If you would like more information on SPIRIT and all it has to off visit or

contact us at

About The Author:

ICRAR is working toward the world's largest radio telescope, the SKA which will be co-

hosted between Australia and Southern Africa. The core purpose of ICRAR’s Outreach and

Education program is to promote awareness and interest in science, computing, and

engineering, improving science literacy and participation in STEM fields.

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