DARK SKIES RANGERS - How can schools fight light pollution?
Hosted by OSOS, contributed by NUCLIO on 03/08/2018

General description

The international project and accelerator Dark Skies Rangers (DSR) aims to create a network of OSOS schools that will combat the problem of light pollution, by raising awareness among the educational community and local authorities to change lighting systems and preserve the night sky.
Our planet, when seen from above during night time, exhibits a large number of lit areas. For example, we can easily identify the areas of greater population density in Iberian Peninsula when it is seen from the International Space Station during night time (see figure bellow). Those light patches also identify areas of great light pollution.

Iberian Peninsula as seen from space (source: NASA).

Iberian Peninsula as seen from space (source: NASA).

Light pollution is caused by outdoor lighting that light up upwards and/or sideways, making the night sky brighter, wasting energy and money, contributing to climate change, affecting wildlife, ecosystems and people’s quality of life, and preventing astronomical observations.

This accelerator focus on the problematic of light pollution, fighting bad quality outdoor lighting and wasting of energy, decreasing public costs with lighting, while at the same time promoting an increase on the quality of life both for humans and the wildlife, increasing the security on the local communities and give the night sky back to the populations. These goals will allow to increase the attention to science by both students and local community, to stimulate teachers to adopt innovative teaching practices, based on Inquiry, which have been proven to be highly effective in science education, to generate and increase civic awareness, and to stimulate a proactive and responsible participation in the decisions of the community. DSR will, therefore, promote the enrichment and renewal of the science curriculum and others subjects, such as civic classes and philosophy.

Learning objectives

  • Realise that the night sky is not always accessible for observations even when there are no clouds;

  • Understand the concepts of intensity of light and light pollution;

  • Realise that most of the outdoor lighting systems are not properly designed, producing bad lighting;

  • Understand the concept of acceptable and unacceptable outdoor lighting;

  • Understand the impact of outdoor lighting on energy resources, on public costs and on the local and national economy, on security, on the quality of living of people and wildlife, and on astronomical observations;

  • Investigate alternative outdoor lighting systems;

  • Development of 21st century skills, such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, tolerance, and global citizenship awareness;

The whole process will be student centred, with the integration of a STEAM approach.

RRI principles

One of the key aspects of OSOS is the inclusion of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) principles (more information at RRI-Tools.eu). This is how this Accelerator fits into the RRI model:

RRI principles

Students will share information and results with stakeholders, establishing a lasting, two-way relationship with the aim of ensuring better project results.

That is, students will research about good quality lighting, and then will investigate how is illumination done in the environments they use on a daily basis, whether they are private or public. By exchanging information with stakeholders in their ommunity at various stages, such as local government and experts (chairman of the parish council, councillors, architects, researchers, just to name a few), they will debate with them on how to proceed in the project, tackle the issues they found, and thus improve the illumination of the place where they live.

Public engagement

Students will be able to improve the lighting of several places. Doing so, they can involve different stakeholders in each of the phases of the project - such as their parents/guardians, local government, research institutes, and others - in a partnership aiming at finding innovative solutions for the problems addressed by this accelerator.

That is, parents/guardians will help their children to investigate the public lighting of their neighborhoods, local experts can give guidance, support and feedback to students during their research, and local government can evaluate the progress made by students throughout the project.

Gender equality

Students can work in gender-balanced teams when carrying out their research, and will be able to contact female stakeholders with a scientific career during the project.

That is, experts involved can be both men and women, in order to show the female perspective of the scientific profession. Female models in science can be a reference for students.

Science Education

Science will be used in this activity to solve real problems affecting the community, by improving the illumination of both public and private spaces, and therefore contribute positively to the community as a whole. This can help students become better citizens with the help of science.

That is, science subjects, such as physics and mathematics, are used by students to learn about the types of lights, compare them, perform measurements, and to propose effective solutions to improve the lighting environment, according to the space, location, and its specifications.


Students will reflect on the impacts of our actions as a society on the planet. They will share responsibility while moving forward with the project, in compliance with the research integrity and the social values of science.

That is, students will promote the installation or the improvement of the illumination of public and private spaces through a scientific process, so that the community will benefit directly from the impact of the project. They will reflect on the environmental and societal impact of their project, and they will use what they have learnt to disseminate the need to improve the lighting of areas occupied by humankind (specially urban areas), including both private and public spaces.

Open Access

All materials will be shared open and freely on the Internet, so that they can be re-used by other people interested in the topic. Students can also use social media and/or other content platforms to disseminate their findings.

That is, students can use or develop online platforms for the project, such as their own blog, where they can share publicly, openly, and freely their resources, materials, progress, and results.

Available partnerships opportunities

General citizen-scientist

  • Identify some constellations and their stars, measure the apparent brightnesses of the latter and compare them to reference values;
  • Identify examples of good and bad outdoor lighting, measuring the illuminance of the neighbourhood and of special spots;
  • Get appointments with policy makers (members of local government, etc.);
  • Analyse the impact of light pollution in the local flora and fauna;
  • Awareness about outdoor and indoor illumination malpractices.


  • Assist their children in the outdoor activities;
  • Assist their children in getting meetings with policy makers and other relevant stakeholders;
  • Participate in the Science Café sessions organised by their children and teacher.


  • Provide students with the necessary background and information, and help them preparing and mastering  the tool snecessary to carry out the outdoor activities;
  • Guide students preparing the interviews with policy makers and other stakeholders;
  • Guide students to organise Science Café sessions and exhibitions.


  • Develop and advertise more efficient outdoor lighting systems;
  • Create awareness of the impact of existing malpractices.


Nuno Gomes

Keywords: light pollution, outdoor lighting, night sky, energy resources, taxes, civic awareness, wildlife, security, quality of living, energy efficiency, health
Learning Objectives: Intensity of light; Light pollution; Designing of outdoor lighting systems; Impact of outdoor lighting; Raise awareness for electricity consumption; Develop real solutions for problems.
Rating: -/5
Views: 829
Languages: English
Students age group: 9 - 12, 12 - 15, 15 - 18, 18 - 25, 25+
Subject domain: Mathematics, Physics, ICT, Engineering, Technology, Publishing on the web, Finding things out, ICT opportunities, Technology, Data analysis, Real world problem, Astronomy, Biology, Environmental Education, Electricity and magnetism, Energy, Light, Tools for science, Changing technologies, Communications issues, Communicative competence, ICT tools - generally, Communicating, Maps and plans, Internet, Digital presentations, Presentation of information & data, Processing text & images, Desktop publishing software, Interpretation of data, Security, accuracy & plagiarism, Terminology, Understanding of audience, The Internet: searching and interpreting, Interpreting information, Reading for information, Search, Recognising that information must be analysed and evaluated for its purpose, author, currency and context, Asking questions & querying data, Entering data, Using applications, Collaboration, Computer literacy, Information literacy, Interpret information, Present work effectively, Record information/data using ICT, Research a problem using ICT, Share ideas, Technological change, Technological education, ICT tools: database, ICT tools: presentation software, ICT tools: spreadsheet, ICT tools: web browser, ICT tools: word processor, Basic computer concepts, Hardware, Software, Communication Environments, E-book readers & other gadgets, Working with cameras & video, Working with mobile technology, Communicating, Graphics, Images, Maps and plans, Patterns, E-mail, Internet, Multimedia, Video, Website, Digital presentations, Presentation of information & data, Presentation software, Processing text & images, Contextualised use of text/image processing, Desktop publishing software, Word processing software, Creating & editing images, Using images & text, Interpretation of data, Security, accuracy & plagiarism, Terminology, Understanding of audience, Understanding of terminology, Input & output devices, Simple networking, Storage devices, Understanding of hardware and software, The Internet: searching and interpreting, Interpreting information, Reading for information, Search, Recognising that information must be analysed and evaluated for its purpose, author, currency and context, Select and use ICT tools and techniques appropriately, safely and efficiently, Asking questions & querying data, Basic computer usage and possibilities, Communication, Entering data, Information, Internet searching, Using applications, Collaboration, Collate, analyse & evaluate information/data using ICT, Computer literacy, Digital citizens, Digital literacy, Draft/manipulate information/data using ICT, Information literacy, Interpret information, Media literacy, Present work effectively, Record information/data using ICT, Research a problem using ICT, Select from and add to information for particular purposes, Share ideas, Use text, tables, images and sound to develop ideas, Working independently, Technological change, Technological education, Engineering, Technology
# of students participating: 0
Updated on: 03.08.2018


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