GalileoMobile, in collaboration with Universe Awareness (UNAWE) recently completed a travelling educational astronomy project in India between the rural areas of Bangalore and Mysore. During the project, which ran from 2-13 July 2012, the team visited 12 schools, bringing astronomy to about 1,400 students, 100 teachers and 2,100 local people.
During the expedition, students and staff from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) and the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium in Bangalore accompanied the six GalileoMobile team members. “Travelling with local contacts enriched the teams’ knowledge of the local cultures and traditions,” says María Dasí Espuig, a member of the GalileoMobile team. “In particular, the team was impressed by the numerous stories that the local people have about the stars, which are only transferred orally from one generation to next.”
In addition to running activities for children, this is the first GalileoMobile expedition to involve teacher training sessions. At the beginning of each school visit, the team explained how to use the donated materials. During the session with students, GalileoMobile encouraged the teachers to run the activities, with the GalileoMobile team only providing support. The aim of this approach is to ensure that the teachers have the confidence to run the activities and experiments again in the future.
The handbook is the core of GalileoMobile field programme and features 21 hands-on astronomy-related activities. Three of the most successful activities were developed by UNAWE: "Creating constellations in 3D", "Building spectroscopes", and "The rings of Saturn". UNAWE also contributed by donating educational materials, such as Earthballs and a Universe in a Box kit.
“The lessons learned from this short expedition will help GalileoMobile plan a longer trip to India in the coming year,” says María. In the meantime, the local amateur astronomers and students from the IIA and and the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium will pursue follow up activities in the region.