Science & Astronomy
18. April 2013

As a rule, I don’t do politics on my websites. But this is science threatened by politics: the budget sequestration in the USA has unbelievable repercussions for scientists and educators especially in the outreach sector. Their funding is being cut, which leads not only to less programs and education, but also to job losses. Pamela Gay, who is a Professor at the Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and the director of CosmoQuest, is experiencing this herself right at the moment. She has been very quiet about this since the news broke that NASA is stopping most of its EPO (education and public outreach) activities, but now she has written a really heart-wrenching article about it.

The work of CosmoQuest is in danger of extinction because of the sequestration. Pamela explains in her article that not only most of what they do, but actually the salaries of her staff are funded by a NASA grant, which is going to be reduced or even cut completely in only a few months. So why should we care? What we see of their activities over the internet is actually only a small part of their work. The CosmoQuest website with the citizen science projects like Moon Mappers, the new educator’s zone and their brilliant hangouts are their most public side, but one of their most important goals is to improve science education in the USA and generally raise awareness for critical thinking, science and astronomy. They don’t want to turn every American schoolkid into a scientist, but at least encourage everyone to get interested on a basic level in science and astronomy.

This is, of course, mainly about the people who are in danger of losing their jobs, but their call for help is far from selfish. Pamela and her colleagues want to go out there and help people to understand and like science, and that’s what really counts. Unfortunately without the NASA funding CosmoQuest as it is today will probably not exist any longer, but this is why Pamela is calling for donations. I could not think of a better project to support and I wish I had the means to do so myself – but even small amounts may help. If you’re not able to donate, help by spreading Pamela’s article and get the word out what’s happening.

CosmoQuest does not deserve to die and while the outlook in Pamela’s article sounds very depressing, I really hope that it’s going to survive and everybody involved will be able continue their amazing work. And they’re not giving up by a long shot!

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