Monday, March 23, 2009

Astronomy club in Nairobi school

We leave the office at around 3.30 PM to travel through the busy Waiyaki way to get to Nairobi school. We are determined to make a lasting impact by exciting the students in astronomy so that they can start an astronomy club. I am very nervous because this will be my first time to work with a boy's high school. 

 Nairobi school astronomy club students. 

Nairobi school was founded in 1910 by the British settlers who settled in Nairobi during the construction of the Kenya-ugandan railway. The school is a national secondary and is a high performance school with the best students from all over the country. 

We arrive at the school at exactly 4.00 Pm and have to wait for Mr. Peter Rugano, the Physics head of department teacher to pick us from the administration. We are picked at about 4.20 Pm and immediately rush to the Physics laboratory where we will conduct our introduction and lecture. 

We are welcomed by two physics teachers who help us carry our equipment to the Physics lab. I am informed that there are 30 students who are astronomy enthusiasts and are already in the process of setting up an astronomy club. There is already a chair of the club, Kevin, who already has so many brilliant ideas and activities that he would like to co-ordinate with the club. 

Students learning how to use stellarium, a sky exploration software

I start my presentation by introducing the team i.e. myself and Jonah. We are just two HOU members and therefore as I give the presentation, Jonah has to assume the role of the photographer

I start my presentation by introducing basic astronomy concepts about our earth and its rotation, the solar system, stars and galaxies. I introduce the concept of dark matter and dark energy, black holes, supernova and nebula. The students start to ask lots of questions as we rush through these topics 

Students doing an activity from the computer
Stellarium, a sky exploration software, is my last presentation. It was very exciting to see the students figure out how to navigate the sky using stellarium. They are so excited that one of them requests that I should give them all a copy of the software. I promise to bring back CDs with all the software for the students to practice further. 

The students request that I set up the telescope so that they can try and see how it works. We take the telescope outside the lab and set it up and focus it on the sky. Its around 6.00 Pm and there is nothing to observe but just for the fun of it the students look through the eyepiece. They are so excited and insist that I need to return with the telescope when it is dark. 

After persuading the students to go for their dinner, the crowd of students around me and my telescope finally reduces and we are able to reassemble all our tools and return to the parking lot to wait for our ride. 

I leave the school exited that the session went well and certain that we will be returning there in a week. We now welcome Nairobi school to the HOU team. 

This trip was sponsored by Pulse Health Care Ltd. 

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