ann23021 — Announcement

US Embassy in Chile Organizes Educational Science Fair at AURA Recinto Facility in La Serena

AURA and NOIRLab staff welcome over 230 students and US Embassy Representative to La Serena Recinto facility for educational science fair

28 July 2023

On 20 July 2023 AURA, together with the United States Embassy in Chile, held the Bicentennial Educational Meeting in celebration of 200 years of official relations between Chile and the United States. As one of the activities, the AURA facilities in La Serena hosted their first ever educational fair, welcoming more than 230 students from the Coquimbo Region to participate in a variety of science education activities.

Ruth Botts, a representative of the United States Embassy in Chile, was also in attendance and was greeted by Alejandra Voigt, the director of AURA in Chile, and Stuartt Corder, the deputy director of NOIRLab.

Botts noted: "I’m happy to be at the AURA complex with the young people who represent the future of our countries. Many thanks to the AURA team for their collaboration and commitment in this meeting, as well as the Chilean-American Institute of La Serena.” She added: “When we talk about two hundred years of relations between the United States and Chile, I immediately think of all that we have done together in education and science: scientific research, technological development, astronomical observation, and academic exchanges. Today, you can see a sample of the wonderful collaboration that unites the United States and Chile".

The more than 230 teenagers who participated were students from public schools from Coquimbo, La Serena, and Vicuña as well as children of AURA and NOIRLab staff. The fair featured multiple activities related to education, astronomy, and science more broadly. Some of the activities included observing the Sun through a specialized solar telescope, a planetarium, a mobile laboratory, visits to the control room of the Gemini South telescope, conversation sessions in English, and a sign language workshop.

Throughout the day, AURA and NOIRLab staff members from the AURA Observatory team, Safety team, Center Operations Services team and the Communications, Education and Engagement team in Chile engaged with members of the younger generation to inform them about science education opportunities and inspire curiosity in the field of astronomy. Ruth Botts also participated in the educational activities at the fair and mingled with the students.

“We’re happy to open the doors of our facilities to the local community and to encourage the new generations to be interested in science and develop their curiosity,” said Alejandra Voigt. “We hope that these young people will occupy these spaces in the future as future workers of AURA and our NOIRLab Center.”

Stuartt Corder added: "As an astronomer, it fills me with joy to see so many young people participating in this activity today because it is an atmosphere that can motivate you on the path of science and learning."

More information 

NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory), the US center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the International Gemini Observatory (a facility of NSF, NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentina, and KASI–Republic of Korea), Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and Vera C. Rubin Observatory (operated in cooperation with the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory). It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawai‘i, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O’odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.


Luz María Aguirre
Communications and Institutional Relations Manager

Charles Blue
Public Information Officer
T: +1 202 236 6324

About the Announcement



US Embassy Representative Ruth Botts
US Embassy Representative Ruth Botts
Fernanda Urrutia talks to students in the AURA Recinto Control Room
Fernanda Urrutia talks to students in the AURA Recinto Control Room
Students from La Serena-Coquimbo and Vicuña area participate in an educational fair organized by the US Embassy in Chile
Students from La Serena-Coquimbo and Vicuña area participate in an educational fair organized by the US Embassy in Chile