Three students of the Gymnase du Bugnon in Lausanne, Switzerland, launched a new project to teach children on Mayotte about astronomy. As part of their high school graduation project, they are organising AstroMobile for which they will visit 6 schools on Mayotte, a small island near Madagascar. They will visit Mayotte in October 2018. They are planning to raise the students’ curiosity about astronomy in workshops and organize stargazing activities. They will also organize extra-curricular activities in collaboration with local associations.
In april 2017, Philippe Kobel, physics teacher in Lausanne, Switzerland, took his class to an observatory in the mountains. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the sky, but instead they watched a documentary about the first expedition. At the end of the year, when the students had to choose a subject for their “Travail de maturité” (a yearlong graduation project), Loïs Cheseaux decided to set up a project like GalileoMobile, in which astronomy outreach is used in a spirit of inclusion, sustainability, and cultural exchange to create a feeling of unity under the same sky. She convinced her classmates Louis Gogniat and Chloé Voirol and the AstroMobile Mayotte project was born. “Astronomy is an incredible science, because it arouses the curiosity of children and allows adults to see the world differently", says Chloé.
With Phillipe Kobel as their tutor, they started looking for a location for the project. Since the students preferred to do the project in French or English, they found three possibilities: Mayotte, Cambodia and Morocco. In all these places they knew a local correspondent. In the end they found a contact person on Mayotte who worked with the right age group, namely children aged 10 to 12. Moreover, they liked this location, because it is very multicultural, with many people from the other islands of the Comoros living there.
Children are drawing a constellation during a try out activity in Switzerland
For the students, it is the first time they have to manage such a big project. Chloé is responsible for contacting the schools on Mayotte. It turned out harder than expected to find contact information of public schools online, but with the help of Jerome Mathey, teacher in Mayotte, she managed to reach enough schools. Louis is trying to collect money for the project with a . The educational part is being managed by Loïs who spends a lot of time searching for the right words and activities to explain abstract concepts to 10-12 years olds.
As preparation for the project, the students organised various try out activities at schools in Switzerland to test the quality of the activities: Do the students understand the subject? Is the activity fun to do? What are the students most intrigued by? Not only the primary school students learned a lot during the few hours visit. Also Chloé, Loïs and Louis picked up new knowledge to use in their activities, which will take place in October of this year. With this project, they hope to inspire more young people to organise projects like this.
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