Our year has started off well. We received a telescope donated by Mark Moldwin of University of Michigan USA. I am sure the students in Kenya will enjoy viewing objects in our night sky with this telescope, we really appreciate the kind gesture and the partnership HOU Africa and USA continue to share.
The Kenya High School Interact-HOU club also received a laptop donated by the El Cerrito Interact club. The laptop will ease the communication for meetings between the two clubs which is usually conducted through sightspeed and skype. We again would like to thank the club members for this kind gesture.
On 15th January 2010, Kenya was one of the countries in Africa that experienced the annular solar eclipse. The eclipse lasted close to thirty minutes and was visible in Nairobi, Rift Valley province, Western Kenya, North Eastern and Coast provinces. Hands-on Universe Africa team were able to view the eclipse with students from Kenya High School. The protective glasses were donated to the students by University of Nairobi Physics Department in particular Dr. Paul Baki. At the University the event was open to the public who were invited for viewing. The members of the press covered the celestial event and there was good publicity of the event.
An annular eclipse occurs when the Sun and the moon are exactly in line but because the apparent moon is smaller than the Sun, the Sun appears as a very bright ring or annulus surrounding the moon.
Later in the day we visited Kenya High School for our usual weekly after-school program. The students wanted to learn more about astronomy so that they could share what they learnt with their friends. We dedicated the rest of the meeting to lessons on Our Solar System, questions and an answer session.
In third week of January, we started our Mentor program between 25 Kenya High School Interact-HOU-Environment club students and 60 Kileleshwa Primary School students. The girls at Kenya High School will be assisted by some Interact students from El Cerrito interact club. The first meeting with the young students was exciting. Diana, the chair of Kenya High Interact coordinated the students from her club. After intros the group did a great job by stressing on the need for the younger students to study hard after school, do their homework on time, have time to play, enjoy their skills in other non-academic activities like sports and talent. The students from Kileleshwa entertained us with some of their skills in sports and dancing. The age of the students was varied from eight years to thirteen.
We had subsequent visits to the school in January. our next visit was with the class eight candidates whom we discussed the solar system and gave the students a chance to ask questions. The students learnt about all the planets in our solar system, their geographic composition and their average temperature. The Kileleshwa students later presented us with questions which we will answer on our next visit.
The club members have an impressive tree nursery of about 60,000 tree seedlings. This project is their hugest projects under the Interact-HOU-environment club. Being a pilot project, they hope to sell the idea to other schools. They also intend to sell the seedlings to any interested parties. They hope to launch the program with the Minister for Environment in the coming months.
It is important to promote the girl child education but we also want to work with the boys and encourage them to like Science and take up careers in science. In January we visited Nairobi School. Michael Waiyaki, a Rotaract member from Rotaract club of Nairobi Central talked to the interact club members and took them through the stages of setting up a good club. The students decided to adapt an orphanage in their locality and work with them in sports and education. the students also intend to mentor younger boys in the home. We will support the club and encourage them in all the activities they decide to undertake this year.
Kenya High school and Nairobi School are also participants of the International Asteroid Search Campaign. We hope we get a few students from the schools to discover some asteroids. The teachers assisting are Mrs. Holi, Mr. Rugano and Mrs. Mutegi