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Space Education by JAXA - Fostering Young Hearts and Minds -

Children Are Society's Treasure

Q. What do the Space School and KU-MA want to achieve?

Schooling in Okinawa
Schooling in Okinawa

Children testing pinhole cameras they have made
Children testing pinhole cameras they have made

Children belong to their parents, who gave them life, but at the same time, they are our future, and so are they are precious to everyone. To develop the next generation and build a good path to the future, we have is to raise our children together. So we operate Space School with that in mind - sharing the philosophy of raising not only your own children but also children around you.
For instance, when a Space School was opened in Okinawa, despite the fact that the maximum number of participants was limited, the school kept growing with each class because grandparents, and participants' neighbors' children, also came along. People let them squeeze in on the tarps on the gymnasium floor, and everyone enjoyed making things and experimenting together. Such a scene is common at all the Space Schools.
People say today's children have many problems, such as not valuing life, not having dreams, lacking patience, etc. People tend to criticize and find reasons for blame, but what is important is to think seriously about what we can do for our children, and start doing something, no matter how trivial it seems, one by one. At Space School, no one simply receives services. We ask everyone to take an active role, such as providing a place, taking charge of paperwork, providing materials, arranging instructors, or working as a volunteer. Even a five year-old child helps out with cleaning before leaving.
KU-MA aims to promote educational activities across Japan, making use of the excitement of space.

Q. What do you think is the challenge of space education today?

It is a fact that space education is not yet broadly accepted. To make it more visible, I think it is essential to better define it. Typically, people have the impression that the sole purpose of space education is to teach about astronomy and space technology, and many think that it is simply part of science class.
But space education can be defined more broadly: 1) looking at the Earth from the point of the view of space, and 2) promoting the attraction of space. Unfortunately, this definition is not yet common. It is important for those of us working with these ideas in mind to set a common vision for what is good for children, and to work cooperatively towards it.

Promoting the Principle of Space Education

Q. What are your expectations for the JAXA Space Education Center?

Children launching straw rockets
Children launching straw rockets

Director Sumio Endo talking about the Earth and the Moon
Director Sumio Endo talking about the Earth and the Moon

As far as the principle of space education goes, the Space Education Center is already on board. It has been making great efforts to make space attractive to schools and children nationwide. To further promote this principle, I would like the center to host a conference on space education. There are many space-education projects already taking place today, but most of them are operating in isolation. We need to give everyone a chance to get together and talk about their own activities and compare notes.
By doing so, the Space Education Center would make itself better known in the education community. Since the center's opening five years ago, its visibility has surely grown, and the number of schools that introduce space education is growing. In reality, though, many people still do not know about its benefits, and its visibility at a national scale is questionable. I hope that the Space Education Center will play a key role in making these benefits known , even by word of mouth, but more importantly by providing training in space education to schoolteachers.

Q. What is your vision for KU-MA?

I'm always keen to encourage children to have dreams, to brighten their lives, and to have a bright outlook for the future. I would like to continue to play a role in helping make a world where children can have dreams. In that sense, I am very happy that I can communicate with children through space education. The mission of KU-MA is to encourage children to get a well-rounded education and have a broad outlook on the world. I would like to continue the operation of Space School, hoping that the activities of KU-MA will make great contributions towards a prosperous future.

Sumio Endo

Director, KU-MA (Kodomo Uchu Mirai Association)
Mr. Endo graduated from Tokyo Gakugei University in 1962, and became a science teacher at a public middle school in Tokyo. He was appointed principal of Dai-go Middle School in Tachikawa city, Tokyo in 1991, and Dai-ichi Middle School in the same city in 1996. After serving as director of the Tokyo Association for Science Education for Middle Schools, he became director of the Japan Association for Science Education for Middle Schools in 1998 (where he is still an advisor today). From 2003 to 2007, he worked as a part-time lecturer at Tokyo Gakugei University and Aoyama Gakuin University. In the area of space education, he was counselor at the JAXA Space Education Center in 2004. He has been in his current position since 2008.

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