Itinerant bus brings Outer Space to Portugal’s Interior

A partnership between the Portuguese Space Agency and its French counterpart, CNES, carries educational experiences focused on space technologies to cities in the interior of Portugal. The trip began on March 7 in Bragança and will end three weeks later in Tavira.

The Spatiobus arrived on March 7th to Bragança for a three-week trip through Portugal’s countryside cities. This itinerant vehicle is equipped to carry out educational activities focused on space applications and technologies for students of primary and lower secondary schools. 

The bus belongs to the French association Planète Sciences, and it travels French roads throughout the year, involved in projects to support educational activities. This is the first time it will make a journey outside of France. The trip takes place within the Portugal-France Crossroad Season and is the result of an agreement signed between the Portuguese Space Agency and the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency. 

The Portuguese Space Agency organises this Spatiobus campaign in partnership with Ciência Viva, whose centres will host the bus. 

“Bringing the Spatiobus to Portugal for three weeks is the materialisation of an agreement of understanding signed between CNES and the Portuguese Space Agency in 2019. It’s also an excellent opportunity for Portugal Space, because it allows us to strengthen educational activities in cities in the interior of the country. At the same time it will also strengthen our ties with Ciência Viva: without them, this activity would not have the same impact among young people,” says Hugo André Costa, director of the Portuguese Space Agency – Portugal Space. 

Marta Gonçalves, responsible for the Portuguese Space Agency’s education programmes, recalls that investing in the scientific education of children and young people is one of the central axes of the Portuguese Space Agency’s strategy. “We want to use all means at our disposal to encourage children and young people to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), motivating them to pursue a career not only in the space sector, but in any career related to science and technology,” she says. 

“Through ESERO (European Space Education Resource Office), Ciência Viva has chosen space sciences as one of its main areas of action, both in terms of teacher training and in terms of creating projects and resources that encourage young people’s interest in primary and secondary education in space exploration. The National Network of Ciência Viva Centres will host the Spatiobus, which will travel from Bragança to Tavira, taking space exploration to students from the north to the south of the country,” says Ana Noronha, Executive Director of Ciência Viva.

Students aged between 8 and 12 who visit Spatiobus will learn what satellites are, how they work and what they are used for. They will also be able to learn how to make their own satellite and discover the best orbits according to the mission they design. But for the satellite to work you need a spacecraft to put it into orbit – so Spatiobus also has the necessary tools for students to build a propulsion system, creating a pneumatic rocket from cardboard. Another possibility is to build a base on Mars and learn the differences between atmospheric pressure on Earth and Mars, testing liquids and solids with different pressures. Spatiobus activities also include experiments linked to Earth Observation, with students learning about how oceans work and the rise in sea level. 

The trip through several schools in the interior of the country (Bragança – Moimenta da Beira – Constância – Ponte de Sor – Estremoz – Lousal – Tavira) will last for three weeks. At each stop,  Spatiobus tutors will be assisted by teachers from Ciência Viva centres, or by EspAciais teachers (a group of teachers with a strong connection to space themes through Ciência Viva).

Spatiobus timetable and route in Portugal 

7 and 8 March, Bragança

Largo do Teatro Municipal

Praça do Prof. Cavaleiro de Ferreira, 5300-252 Bragança

9 to 11 March, Moimenta da Beira

Escola Básica e Secundária de Moimenta da Beira

  1. Dr. João Lima Gomes nº3, 3620-368 Moimenta da Beira

14 and 15 March, Constância

Escola Básica e Secundária Luís de Camões

Rua do Moinho de Vento 10, Constância

16 and 17 March, Ponte de Sor 

Escola Básica João Pedro de Andrade

  1. da Frialva, Ponte de Sor

18 and 21 March, Estremoz 

Convento das Maltezas, Estremoz

22 and 23 March, Lousal

Centro Ciência Viva do Lousal

Av. Frédéric Velge, Lousal

24 and 25 March, Tavira  

Largo do Carmo, Tavira

Portugal Space
10 of March, 2022