“We need more trained ambassadors and additional activities to share with teachers.” That’s how Thomas Mbise, a board member of the Centre for Science Education and Observatory summed up the February 6th gathering of almost 70 educators in Usa River, Tanzania. (see attached photo) Mbise had given a presentation on the history of the Centre during the inception meeting.
The event brought together teachers, school heads, District Education officers from the Ministry of Education, and other leaders in a day-long event where they learned about the Astro-Science Ambassadors Outreach for Science Education program.
The participants were welcomed by Prof. Hodian Urio of Mt Meru University and chair of the Centre Board. He talked about science education in Tanzania and emphasized the need for improving the situation by volunteering our time for the betterment of future generations. He pointed out the importance of the outreach program and how its success depends on the willingness of the participants to engage in the work.
Joeline Ezekiel, one of two UNAWE-Tanzania/Telescopes to Tanzania representatives making presentations shared the expected outcomes of the program. These include: a goal of reaching 48 teachers from 24 school and approximately 1000 students; engaging two government officials; and the development of ten astro-science activities. The proposed implementation plan, anticipated project timeline, and project achievement indicators were included in the presentation.
Albert Kisongola, also representing UNAWE-Tanzania/Telescopes to Tanzania, gave a presentation on how the project is going to be monitored and evaluated. He pointed out the tools for evaluation, which include registration forms, report forms, questionnaires, and other testimony in the form of writings, pictures and films.
Following the event Kisongola wrote, “I saw a new way of improving science teaching in our schools. I saw the District Education Officers express their desire for the project to grow into a national program to benefit all teachers and students in Tanzania. I saw teachers who enjoyed and expressed interest in our presentations, and I saw them ready to engage into this serious task. We all saw them asking lot of questions about the project and we were there to respond.”
Dr. Charles Mahela, deputy chancellor from the African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS) shared the work of AIMS. He pledged to strengthen the collaboration between stakeholders represented at the gathering and talked about the opportunities offered by AIMS to science teachers.
During a question and answer period both Ministry of Education representatives promised full support to the project.
The Science Ambassador program was established by the Centre in June of last year following a training event led by UNAWE – Tanzania and Telescopes to Tanzania trainers. The goal of the initial group of more than a dozen ambassador-
educators is to help teachers in secondary schools in the region to have more hands-on, inquiry based models for science and math classrooms. The models are designed to meet the requirements outlined in the government mandated curriculum.
This initial phase of training and outreach in 2015 is supported by funds raised last year in a successful crowd sourcing campaign along with a grant from the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development.
Today, these leaders in Tanzania have a strong vision and ambitious plans for growing the work of the Centre and they invite you to contribute to supporting the current campaign on the new Fiat Physica site: http://www.fiatphysica.com/campaigns/telescopes-to-tanzania/
Or visit the Telescopes to Tanzania webpage at: http://www.astronomerswithoutborders.org/awb-programs/resource-sharing-programs/telescopes-to-tanzania.html after March 8 to contribute via PayPal.
Participant Photo: Almost 70 educations attended a day-long event on February 6th to learn about the Astro-Science Ambassadors Outreach for Science Education program in Usa River, Tanzania.
It is a long way before we see full potential of astronomy on improving science learning and understanding in Tanzania. But the modest efforts we make gives a huge return and makes us move a step further with a big hope.
This time we are impressed with the work of the two science teachers, who were eager to see how astronomy can be a tool to improve science teaching in Tanzania. They decide to do a project on THE POTENTIAL AND APPLICATION OF ASTRONOMY IN EXPLAINING CONCEPTS IN OTHER SCIENCES in order to pursue their Bachelor of Science in Education from Mkwawa University College of Education in the year 2014.
Their project aimed at making astronomy to be used as a tool for explain other fields of sciences. This came about due to the lost of interest by secondary school students on taking science subjects, including Physics subject which was the case was the project case study. The major cause of the problem is explained to be lack of different means and techniques on providing demonstrations and explanations to important concepts when teaching and learning Physics. Same methods and techniques have been used and yet no big results are obtained. Hence the project intend to show how the problem can be alleviated by using some astronomical concepts to explain some scientific concepts in other fields of sciences.
The project found out, some astronomical knowledge concepts can actually be applied to explain and demonstrate other science concepts as they appear in the current science syllabus of Tanzania. One of the example used in the report is the interchangeable explanation of atomic structure and solar system.
The knowledge of the solar system can be applied to explain the structure of the atom and the motion of the electron in their orbits around the nucleus, just like the planets in their orbits around the sun. The force which keeps the electrons in their orbits is the same force of attraction which keep the planets in their orbits.
It is in the context of similar examples the project emphasize on the need of more findings, projects and researches in order to discover astronomical concepts which can be used to enhance the understanding of other scientific concepts in other fields of science. This way it hopes to raise interest to teachers and science students in secondary schools to learn more about science through astronomy amusement.
The project has also recommend the use of its findings to explain how astronomy can be used as a tool to explain common scientific concepts in other fields of sciences, but also on the need to incorporated astronomy in the secondary schools science curriculum so as to support the easy understanding of the students and raise their interests on learning science.
UNAWE-Tanzania is thankful to Albert M. Kisongola and Patrice L. Innocent for their project, which to our knowledge is the first to relate Astronomy and Science teaching in Tanzania.
We look forward to use the project report on our continued efforts to raise awareness of astronomy for better science teaching and understanding in Tanzania.
We are also thankful to our partners (Telescopes to Tanzania, Office for Astronomy Development and Universe Awareness) for their support on education resources, which we look forward to use and integrate when we implement recommendations from this project report as well as other projects we work on.