Recently more than 136 Kg of astronomy resources travelled from a garage in Racine Wisconsin to Arusha in Tanzania East Africa. The 12 telescopes, along with mounts, eyepieces, and teaching resources will be used by the Telescopes to Tanzania program that is now in its third year of operation.
Tanzania is one of the developing countries in the world and currently the teaching capacity is limited by lack of basic resources like text books and laboratory equipment. In many schools astronomy is taught without telescopes, chemistry without labs, geography without maps. Like STEM programs in the US, this effort aims to build instructor and student capacity in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and geography.
The focus on telescopes and astronomy provides an exciting hands-on approach to the study of the universe that uses academic skills students need to become the future teachers, scientists, and leaders in their nation, Africa, and the world. Last year, Chuck Ruehle travelled alone for a month, sharing his love of astronomy with five secondary and two elementary schools in remote mountain villages of Mt. Meru. This year the effort includes working with 80 Secondary and Primary teachers at the Mwangaza Partnership for Education Centre in Arusha, Tanzania for two weeks. Ultimately, 227 Kg”s of resources, valued at almost $5,000 will be shared with teachers from more than 25 schools.
This November a four person team of amateur astronomers from Tanzania, Kenya, and the US will work in English and Swahili to provide instruction on a variety of topics. Susan Murabana is with the African Astronomical Society and Africa Hands-on Universe (GTTP); and Mponda Malozo is a national coordinator for Universe Awareness programs in Tanzania. They will join Sue and Chuck Ruehle at Mwangaza to teach about:
- Astronomy Planetarium software: Cellestia and Stellarium
- Astronomy image manipulation and data analysis software
- Telescope set-up and operation,
- Geography: latitude, longitude, and its impact on viewing
- Observing the night sky: constellations, sky maps and wheels, moon phases, tides, and eclipse
- Observing the sun: solar dynamics, sun spots, solar filters, safety first practices
- Optics and light: focal length, lenses, visible light spectrum, prisms, and spectra scopes
- Electro-magnetic spectrum; sharing examples of radio waves, infrared, ultra-violet, x-ray and gamma ray
- Solar system: distance, size, orbits, and composition of the planets
- Dark Sky activities: light Pollution and the October Worldwide Star Count
Following the workshops, Sue and Chuck Ruehle, the founders of the program from Racine will travel an additional two weeks visiting some of the schools and villages where the workshop participants work and live. Travelling most of the time by Land Rover they will often live off the grid between one thousand three hundred and ninety thousand meters on Mt. Meru.
Telescopes to Tanzania is a project of Astronomers Without Borders. We also work with the Galileo Teacher Training Program, Global Hands on Universe, and Universe Awareness for Young Children. In addition, the program has also received support from the Office of Astronomy for Development of the International Astronomical Union, Canadian Telescope, Celestron Telescope, Yerkes Observatory, Racine Rotary and Optimist Clubs, The Astronomical League, various local astronomy societies, religious groups, and countless individuals.
The Ruehle’s are amateur astronomers and conduct education programs in southeastern Wisconsin in the US. Chuck is also a Galileo Teacher Training Program Ambassador, and a NASA Galileo Educator Fellow.