Deirdre Kelleghan, AWB National Coordinator for Ireland, has been honored with Science magazine’s prestigious SPORE (Science Project for Online Resources in Education) award for her work in opening up the wonders of the universe to schoolchildren.  Science magazine is the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.





The SPORE prize was awarded to the Universe Awareness (UNAWE) website, which includes online resources designed by Deirdre that enable children to visualize and create images of the Solar System’s diverse moons.

Deirdre is both an amateur astronomer and an artist with a passion for experimentation in lunar, solar, and deep-sky sketching.  She is vice chair of the Irish Federation of Astronomical Societies and coauthor of the book "Sketching the Moon: An Astronomical Artist's Guide," Springer, New York, forthcoming 2011.

Deirdre’s award-winning project, which she calls “Deadly Moons,” is an interactive drawing workshop designed to teach children aged 6-12 about our moon and some of the other exotic moons in our solar system.  The workshop’s title was inspired by the local dialect children use in Ireland.  When looking at the Moon through her telescope, the children would often say to her, “That’s deadly.” “To children the word ‘Deadly’ means ‘Totally Amazing’—therefore it was an already welcoming positive word, and that’s the appeal of the title,” says Deirdre.


Participants in a Deadly Moons workshop at the Wicklow Arts Festival pose with the creator
of the workshop Deirdre Kelleghan. Courtesy Deadly Moons/UNAWE/Deirdre Kelleghan

Using pictures from satellites such as Galileo, which produced images of Jupiter’s moons, and Cassini, which imaged Saturn’s moons, she gets schoolchildren to draw their own pictures.

Deirdre says she encourages children’s imagination by talking about moons that could have life on them, including Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus.  “I let their imaginations go wild,” she says.  “I’m very tuned in with kids, particularly kids from the inner city who aren’t used to getting this kind of stuff.  It’s not like learning about astronomy in a stuffy way.”

Science magazine developed the SPORE award to promote the best online materials in science education.  The acronym SPORE suggests a reproductive element adapted to develop, often in less-than-ideal conditions, into something new.  In a similar way, these winning projects can be seen as the seeds of progress in science education, despite considerable challenges to educational innovation.

According to UNAWE International Project Manager Pedro Russo, “Deadly Moons and other educational materials are uploaded regularly to the UNAWE website, so that they can be distributed, adapted and translated for use in other countries.”

•    Universe Awareness website:
•    Deadly Moons on the Universe Awareness website:
•    Deirdre Kelleghan’s website:
•    To read the Science magazine essay, “Crowd-sourced education and astronomical perspectives for young children around the world” by Carolina J. Ödman-Govender and Deirdre Kelleghan: