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Astronomy For Peace At The Island Of Cyprus
28 May 2018

Throughout 2017 GalileoMobile organised astronomy outreach activities on the island of Cyprus to share astronomy with the children from both the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities. In a new documentary on this project, you get an overview of the types of activities provided. Moreover, organisers and children tell about their experiences with the project.

The aim of the project was to get the children excited about astronomy and the universe while promoting meaningful communication and a culture of peace and non-violence. The project is named "Columba-Hypatia Project: Astronomy for Peace. "Columba is a constellation, the 'dove' constellation, which is a well-known symbol of peace. So we thought it would be nice to have this as the name of our project", tells Francesca Fragkoudi, one of the astrophysicists of GalileoMobile. The project reached 150 students, 30 teachers and 100 people of the general public.

The educators worked together with children from both communities on the island and looked together at the sky above them. In interactive lessons and with hands-on activities they learned more about the Cosmos, while also learning more about each other. By learning more about the universe around them that all people on Earth share, the children were introduced to the idea of global citizenship.

Afterwards, the children showed that this message really came through. "There are too many things we don't know about each other", says one of the children. "That's why we shouldn't only see things from our own point of view." One of the others immediately agrees with her. "We should all be equal."

Students made their own 3D-constellations.

Students made their own 3D-constellations.

Children from the different parts of the island were grouped together so that they needed to communicate during the assignments although they did not speak the same mother language. By using English and helped by the educators, they learned more about each other's language, favourite food and music.

One of the exercises was to design a golden record based on the Voyager Golden Record that was sent with the Voyager Spacecraft launched in 1977. This golden record was meant for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form that might find the spacecraft to get an idea of life on earth. The children had to think of what is in their opinion representative of all of Cyprus to put on this record. In this way they got the opportunity to think about properties of both parts of the island.

As a follow-up, the Columba-Herschel project was launched to organise more astronomy activities to promote peace on the island in 2018. While Columba-Hypatia mainly involved visiting schools on both sides of the border, Columba-Herschel focuses more on out-of-school astronomy activities around the island such as Astronomy Camps.

To get an idea of the project and to see how the project was received by the students, you can watch the following documentary.

The documentary on the Columba-Hypatia Project