In a paper published in 2007 by Dr. Carl Pennypacker, the Global Hands-On Universe (GHOU) is presented as an educational program that enables students to investigate the Universe while applying tools and concepts from science, math, and technology. Using the Internet, G-HOU participants around the world request observations from an automated telescope, download images from a large image archive, and analyze them with the aid of user-friendly image processing software, as described by Dr. Miller.
Global Hands-On Universe is a worldwide project, with extensions over all the continents, the root project being GHOU. The project is based on observations, possibly acquired by the pupils themselves in classrooms thanks to a worldwide network of automatic telescopes operated via Internet or didactic tools (webcam system, radio telescope) developed within this project. These observations can be manipulated in classrooms with a specific software designed to be pupil-friendly. They are integrated into pedagogical resources constructed in a close collaborative work between researchers and teachers. The resources developed in the course of this project are posted on the Web site.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) launched in 2009 the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP), a Cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. GHOU is a major component of GTTP.
GHOU, among which EU-HOU is the leading consortium, is now officially included in the Astronomy for the Developing World Strategic Plan 2010-20 of IAU, under Section 3.4.2 Astronomy for Children and Schools. During the next decade the IAU will concentrate more resources on education activities for children and schools designed to advance sustainable global development.
In Europe, the EU-HOU project is led by Dr. Ferlet & Dr A.-L. Melchior. EU-HOU has been funded through the European Community (EC) program MINERVA (SOCRATES) for a two-year period (2004–2006), and through the European Community (EC) program COMENIUS (LifeLong Learning Program) for two two-year periods (2008–2010, 2010-2012). EU-HOU has extended up to 15 EC countries, with national websites. The Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris is the educational centre for the EU-HOU project. The EU-HOU project has developed numerous (free) pedagogical resources tested in classrooms and posted on the project's website. The most ambitious ones are: (1) the multilingual SalsaJ software: it enables secondary school pupils to handle astronomical data and analyse them. An exercise series based on this software has been developed. Associated data can be downloaded directly from the software. (2) The EUHOUMW Small Radiotelescope Network developed in the framework of the Comenius project "Connecting classrooms to the Milky Way" enables secondary school pupils to access the instruments installed in five different European countries (France, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain). Kids can observe the hydrogen from the Milky Way with these 3-metres radiotelescopes. Every operation can be performed from the Web interface, available in 17 different languages, which enables the learners to reconstruct the rotation curve of the Milky Way as well as its spiral arms. Pedagogical resources (teacher's manual, simulator of observation, archives, kinesthetic activities) have been tested in teacher's training, secondary school level and also at undergraduate level.
In America, the US HOU project is led by the United States with support from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy. In the USA, HOU has developed and pilot tested an educational program that enables high school students to request their own observations from professional observatories. Students download telescope images to their classroom computers and use the powerful HOU image processing software to visualize and analyze their data. High school curriculum developed by HOU integrates many of the science and math topics and skills outlined in national standards into open-ended astronomical investigations. HOU has also developed activities and tools for middle school students and products for informal science education centers. The Lawrence Hall of Science at University of California, Berkeley, is the educational center for the HOU project.
In Asia, the AS-HOU section have China and Japan strongly involved. They have their own web sites.
In Africa, AF-HOU is now extending to Kenya with a recently launched pilot, researchbased astronomy and astrophysics curriculum into Kenya High in Nairobi, Kenya as a vehicle to introducing the methodologies of scientific research into secondary education.
In the context of the European Commission Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013, EU-HOU proposes regular European training sessions in France, at Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University in Paris, since 2010. These sessions are published on the Comenius training database (reference numbers: FR-2010-314-003, FR-2011-359-006, FR-2013-408-003).
The main goal of these training sessions is to re-awake the interest for science in the young generation with inquiry-based methods. Active methods based e.g. on kinesthesia (Proprioception) have been recently introduced to introduce modelling concepts. Renewing of the teaching of science is fulfilled through astronomy as a well-established source of motivation, and through the use of new Information and Communication Technologies - ICT. Involving teachers in a variety of research-based astronomical projects, they will get excited, enthused and motivated to teach science/technology/maths. The training is intended to enhance basic competencies of teachers and develop higher level skills and expertise, primarily in Information and communication technologies in education (ICT), maths and physics area.
These sessions are financed through European Commission Comenius national Agencies (Comenius programme). Information related to scheduled training sessions are posted on the EU-HOU Website and its news.
A dedicated forum in English has been opened to favour feed-back from trained teachers and interaction with a wider educator and researcher community.