(From a proposal by the Minnaert Committee, the NOVA Outreach group:)
Public interest in astronomy is immense. This is not only evident in media coverage, but also in the steady stream of requests for information directed at our astronomical institutes. Many high school students approach us for materials for their science projects. Popularization of astronomy is an excellent vehicle for stimulating interest in natural science in general. This is of great importance at a time when the interest in university studies in some of these disciplines is declining.
At present, dissemination of our cultural products to the public at large is mostly left to popularizers in the media and to scientists who, usually in their spare time, are willing to educate the public through talks and in writing. For instance, Dutch astronomers give hundreds of popular lectures per year to the interested public (many of them high school students and teachers). These are often first rate efforts, and will continue to play a vital role in providing easy-to-digest astronomical information. However, knowledge on a higher level also needs to be fed back, for example to the high school curricula where the entire natural science education is presently being revised. It also holds for the background training of high school teachers, and for the distribution of high-level information to the media.
A (2003) presentation, in Dutch (`Los van de Aarde - astronomie voor iedereen') dealing with astronomical outreach in The Netherlands can be found here.
Much more to come .........