Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Our little stars in the planetarium at Kilimani Junior Academy

Hands on Universe Africa is back to business after a hiatus! During the break we underwent a structural overhaul & now we are back better than ever. We recently acquired a portable mobile planetarium which we will use as a supplement in our programmes with various schools locally. It includes interactive astronomy software which is key in teaching astronomy to children in this age.

Our first field activity was hosted by Kilimani Junior Academy in Karen & we were very excited to be back to doing science with kids! We intended to spend the entire day at the school & as expected got there quite early in the morning amped to get started with the day's activities. 
We got there at around 10 a.m on Monday 16th and we were immediately ushered into one of the school's hall where we would set up the planetarium dome.

As soon as we got round to unpacking the equipment the lights went out. On inquiry we learnt that the utility provider (Kenya Power) were conducting scheduled maintenance in the area & that it would take a while until they were done.

We had not anticipated this setback and everyone around slumped in their seats in the school's dining hall. The faces of the children in classes nearby who were peering at this developing story painted a grim picture. We decided to make the best of the situation & set about going through the intended program while fine tuning a few details of our presentation silently hoping that the power would  be restored. 

Finally, the fluorescent tubes crackled to life at around 1:30 pm right after lunch & we immediately sprung to action. We quickly set up the dome and got the teachers to coordinate the students into groups since we were going to do everything it would take to see as many kids as possible given the small window of opportunity we had.

The students lined up outside & just from their chatter you could tell that the height of their curiosity was reaching fever pitch. Slowly, steadily, they shuffled (sometimes stumbled) into the dome & boy didn't we blow their minds away! The "ooohs" & "aahhhs" were any educator's dream response. The students' age was a sample of eight to thirteen year old boys and girls, at some point even teachers & other administrative staff joined us in the dome to have a look, there was never a dull moment, not once.

That is the impact (in my opinion) Astronomy has on the human mind. It sparks the imagination and sends it reeling to worlds beyond our borders & when you finally look back, you realise how beautiful our rocky outpost is.

Soon it was time to go home, the kids loved it so much they begged their headteacher to have us back as soon as possible. She agreed! We will be going back to their school on their Family fun day. We shall post the details on subsequent blogs. 

1 comment:

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