NEW ORLEANS – On the new episode of the Let’s Talk STEM with Dr. Calvin Mackie podcast, the host talks about the importance of astronomy and exploring space with his special guest Michael Paolucci, founder and CEO of Slooh. The company’s gamified education platform teaches students to explore space via a network of 12 online telescopes located on mountaintops in the Canary Islands and Chile.
Paolucci created The Online Telescope, the world’s only scalable solution for astronomy education. Slooh makes real-world, real-time space exploration accessible for students by providing access to online telescopes in the classroom that students can personally control and capture their own photos with. It’s a remarkable invention that brings access to space to schools and students, who don’t have the resources to obtain it otherwise.
“Our innovation makes it possible for an unlimited number of students to explore space just like professional astronomers,” says Paolucci, noting that students in urban settings and under-resourced communities are largely blocked from exploring space because of the high cost of telescopes and the “light pollution” in cities that now encloses 80% of the world’s population.
The conversation explains the importance of allowing children to vastly expand their imaginations, to search beyond their immediate environments and enjoy a component of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) that is too often off limits because of their socioeconomic status and geographical location. The Online Telescope is enabling students to explore new worlds as if they were part of the crew on the Star Trek Enterprise or Discovery by becoming the new Guardians of the Galaxy as they follow a game-like learning progression, earning badges and scoring Gravity Points along the way.
“The whole idea of being able to do it on your computer and have it be scalable and not be a solitary experience, but rather a social experience where you’re actually looking up at the night sky with everyone from around the world in real time with live views, makes the experience more compelling and very enriching,” Paolucci says. “People have the opportunity to exchange ideas with one another while using the platform and really celebrate our commonality, our place here as earthlings, looking up into outer space.”
Dr. Mackie adds, “Everybody deserves to have that opportunity. And I think what you are doing with Slooh and bringing space to everyone via computer is definitely beneficial.”
Further, Paolucci sees social benefits in providing students with opportunities to expand their comprehension of the universe. “When you get out away from light pollution, you get to see the majesty of the Milky Way, and you feel this deep, fundamental connection as human beings. What is our place in the cosmos? What are we all doing here? And you can’t help but be curious about it. A lot of kids growing up in urban environments don’t have the wherewithal to travel, to go out to dark mountain tops, and to actually see the night sky every single day. They’re really losing that connection as people.”
Listen to the entire enlightening conversation by clicking HERE.