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Universe Awareness for Young Children – Newsletter

December 2008

COUNTRY NEWS Welcome UNAWE Brazil The Louis Cruls Astronomy Club was established in May 26 1996. In twelve years of activity they have organized many events around Astronomy and Astronautics popularization. They work in partnership with the CEFET/Campos observatories in Campos dos Goytacazes, a city of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Their blog can be found at with information and images about the activities they run, of the observatories and of the public activities they organize. The Louis Cruls Astronomy Clube joins UNAWE looking forward to exchange experience with others astronomy clubs and develop projects in partnership with other clubs. They have a weekly column in a regional newspaper and a weekly TV Program about Astronomy and Astronautics on a regional cable TV network. The program this year will celebrate five years of existence. The name of the program is "Um Passeio pelo Céu" and means "A walk in the sky". The website of UNAWE Brazil is UNAWE Kenya at Ray of Hope Community Centre in the slums of Kawangware How do you sensitize and excite children between the ages of five and eleven in Astronomy? Jonah from UNAWE Kenya came up with a wonderful idea; why can’t the children build up the solar system from clay. This idea provided us a channel to effectively communicate to the children on our planet and galaxy. We knew we had exactly three hours at the school so we were challenged in designing activities that would last just that long. Many more things happened that day.


Universe Awareness for Young Children – Newsletter

December 2008

"The children, as a vote of thanks, sang us a song that has been ringing in our heads for the past few days and I think will stay their longer. The song starts with “Twinkle, twinkle little star” then stretches to the alphabet. We are challenged; next time we are here we must have a solar planet rhyme. After lunch, we left Ray of hope community centre Kawangware, dirty but enriched and with a clearer vision on how to sensitise young children. Indeed it was a two way learning process." Read more about this first visit to Ray of Hope Community Centre on the UNAWE Kenya website: 9/nyota-for-kids-universe-is-bigger-than.html The "Nyota" for kids project is sponsored by FourTell eAfrica Ltd. 1-day Astronomy for children workshop in Madurai, India A one-day workshop on Astronomy for children was organized on 2nd October by Thulir Science Centre at St. Antony Middle School, Koodal Nagar, Madurai. A series of activities related to Sun, Stars and Planets were conducted. The workshop began with the introduction of 4'' telescope and its components by Mr.L.Narayanasamy, Secretary Tamil Nadu Science Forum. Simple Experiments to understand Sun’s Diameter, Sundial, Rotation of Earth, Solar and Lunar eclipses were demonstrated by Dr.S.Krishnasamy of Madurai Kamaraj University and Prof.P.Rajamanickam of Saraswathi Narayanan College. Films related to Cosmos and introducing the International Year of Astronomy-09 by UNESCO were shown to children. Astronomical quiz was also conducted for the children based upon the workshop. When the Sun was sinking in the west and the crescent moon was rising the children viewed the craters on the border of the crescent moon through telescope. They also viewed the Evening Star, the Venus. M.Ravichandrn, Coordinator, Thulir Science Centre and K.Kamesh, Treasurer of Tamil Nadu Science Forum organized the workshop. Around 50 Children organized by Thulir Science Centre under the banner of Thulir Illam in near by villages attended the workshop. Mr. Hari Babu, Science Teacher, Govt. High School, Anaiyur brought around 25 children from his school. This programme was supported by Hi Tech Arai Ltd., Madurai NOTE: Thulir is the children science monthly published by TNSF and Thulir Illam is the children’s club organised around the readers of thulir


Universe Awareness for Young Children – Newsletter

December 2008

Space festival in Indonesia On October 18, 2008, LAPAN (The Indonesian Institute of Aeronautics & Space) organised the festival of space science. With the help of the UNAWEIndonesia & Langitselatan community, they offered many activities for children related to space science. Games to learn basic concepts of rocketry & space travel; water rockets and a drawing competition were among the activities carried out. The festival was intended for students from the district of Haurgombong around Tanjungsari Observatory, which belongs to LAPAN. This is a very remote area so the event was an opportunity for the local students to acquire a basic awareness about space science. Emmanuel Sunggieng from UNAWE Indonesia blogged about the event and pondered how to make children truly aware of the universe. In his words "to give children the best understanding is to ‘drag’ them in the cold & dark night, letting them observe the sky by themselves, let them awe & wonder about the universe as they see it, just like the night time of the festival, when the sky was dark but inspiring, when the Milky Way (bima sakti as our native language) was unfolded right above our heads." The event was covered in the local newspaper (Koran Priangan) in an article entitled "To Embrace the Stars, To Peek at the Sun" (Meraup Bintang, Mongintip Matahari). New Astronomy & Art project for young children in Ireland This project will introduce astronomy to young children by using the medium of ART in workshops where they will have FUN creating paintings and crafts. This will enable children to think about what’s out there in space. They will begin to appreciate the beauty of the Universe and develop their artistic skills while learning astronomy. The workshops, initiated by astronomer Miruna Popescu and artist Jarmila Matickova, will take place in St Patrick’s Trian centre, in Armagh, Northern Ireland, throughout 2009. This project is partially funded. If you wish to support it, Please contact Miruna at "View from Space", a drawing by Lucy Sweeney from Santa Sabina in Dublin. Venezuelan Planetarium at Expo2008 Expo 2008 was conducted simultaneously in the cities of San Cristobal, Maracaibo, Valencia, Cumana and Bolivar, celebrating the launch of the satellite Simón Bolívar. Hundreds of scientific institutions attended and the Research Centre for Astronomy, CIDA, demonstrated the vast array of educational activities developed there.


Universe Awareness for Young Children – Newsletter

December 2008

The first Venezuelan-built planetarium Sidereum was on display. While its projection system was devised to be mobile, the quality of the night sky depicted in the planetarium is almost as good as professional projection systems, but cost a lot less. As the Planetarium has been tested in several cities, its performance, and the quality of the dome have improved. The dome houses up to 130 people. During the 2-day event, about 3300 people at a rate of 120 people per presentation attended the show. This illustrates the high impact that planetariums have for science popularisation. The planetarium probably best captured the attention and interest of the audience. CIDA made an important contribution to Expo 2008, with the presentation in posters of other important projects such as multi-spectral camera, the telescope reflector for schools, the research program in astronomy and astrophysics, the National Project on Scientific Signs, the national program of astronomy in schools, etc. We acknowledge the effort and work of the staff that helped, installed and operated the planetarium. It was very tiring work owing to both the size of the planetarium and by the large amount of public attention. INTERNATIONAL NEWS New websites We are happy to present our new organisation website. It is destined to be a resource for people to find information about UNAWE programmes.


Universe Awareness for Young Children – Newsletter

December 2008

Universe Awareness Organisation This website deals with UNAWE as an organisation. It shows the news, past and future events, the meetings, etc. Some innovations are 1. Raising support for your UNAWE activities via the UNAWE Foundation The UNAWE Foundation (full name ‘Stichting Universe Awareness Foundation’) is there to serve as a legal organisation for UNAWE projects. The foundation has charitable status, i.e. donations are not taxed by the Dutch authorities and might be taxdeductible for donors in some countries. If funding is sent to the foundation for a specific project, we will ensure that it reaches the right recipient. The details of the Foundation can be found on the website. 2. Support for specific projects A new section enables our activists to seek support for specific actions. Some proposals are already online. Please read through these and if you can help, or if you have a UNAWE proposal get in touch! Funded proposals are left on the website with links to the sponsors. 3. National programmes The news of every UNAWE programme are listed on the home page as news features. In the navigation menu to the left, we link to each national UNAWE website if there is one, otherwise it pulls up all the news about each national programme like a blog. Database of educational materials and activities: The most valuable resource of Universe Awareness is all our partners around world offering activities and showing the beauty and scale of the Universe to young children. Our thanks go to all of you and we hope that the online database of materials does justice to the efforts you have put in developing those activities. Most educational materials made available on our website are sourced from this great network of partners and are made available on our website for everyone to use. If you use them, please let us know. It is of paramount importance for us to get feedback on these materials and activities so that we can keep improving them and make the whole greater than the sum of the parts. We thank you in advance for your feedback. 4th International Multidisciplinary UNAWE workshop The next UNAWE workshop will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at about the same time as the IAU General Assembly (which takes place August 3 - 14). We are lucky that our colleague Marcelo de Oliveira Souza leader of UNAWE Brazil - is helping us with this. We are not sure at this point if we will be able to assist anyone financially to take part in this workshop, which is why we decided to organise it at the same time as the IAU General Assembly; a number of us will be there anyway.


Universe Awareness for Young Children – Newsletter

December 2008

We encourage anyone interested in taking part in this workshop please let us know the following before the end of 2008: -


If you intend to be at the IAU GA If not, if you wish to come to the workshop anyway If you are coming to the GA, whether you prefer the UNAWE workshop to take place before (last week of July, after the eclipse), during (at the week-end of Aug 8-9, for example), or after (starting Aug 17) the IAU GA. FYI, the education sessions of the IAU GA take place in the middle of the meeting. What theme you would like this workshop to focus on, if any. (The second workshop was a general one, the third one this year focused on educational/inspirational materials.)

Please contact us at New partnerships with International Organisations The number of collaborations between UNAWE and international organisations has grown to a point where it becomes relevant to take a new approach. In addition to the national programmes, UNAWE is establishing a new form of partnership with international organisations. As the time to reach the Millennium Development Goals gets shorter, international aid and development organisations strive to increase their services beyond first necessities. We offer international organisations the opportunity to add value to their work. The materials and activities developed by the worldwide UNAWE community serve as a basis for these new collaborations. The organisations take charge of producing those materials (e.g. printing or producing them) and disseminating them in their working areas. In return UNAWE gets feedback from them about the materials. We hope this will give the great materials and activities developed by our volunteers a new international reach and value. The objective behind this evolution is to reach as many young children as possible, and in many parts of the world, young children in difficulty are in the care of such organisations.

Message from Prof. George Miley, Vice-President of the International Astronomical Union and Instigator of UNAWE From the dawn of history, astronomy has been an important factor in human development. The beauty and regularity of the sky has been a source of wonderment and the ability to predict the motions of the Sun and stars were decisive factors in the emergence of agriculture and navigation in early civilizations. A yearning for knowledge about our roots has resulted in a deep curiosity about the origin and history of the Sun and Moon, the stars and galaxies and the Universe itself. Astronomy is one of the most approachable of sciences that consistently fascinates young people and is an excellent vehicle for introducing science and technology to children. Although there have been many astronomy outreach programmes dedicated to older children, until the advent of UNAWE there were no large scale attempts to use astronomy as a tool for inspiring and educating very young children.


Universe Awareness for Young Children – Newsletter

December 2008

The exotic and beautiful images of our Universe provided by modern telescopes are unique tools for exciting young children and providing them with an introduction to the wonder of science. Carl Sagan, one of the most brilliant science educators of the twentieth century once said that “I am often amazed at how much more capability and enthusiasm for science there is among elementary school youngsters than among college students.” Exposing very young children to the strange and intriguing objects in the cosmic zoo and giving them some idea about the vastness of the Universe can also help broaden children’s minds at a highly formative stage of their development. If Universe Awareness can help in a small way to stimulate internationalism and tolerance among the next generation of citizens it will have performed an important service. To quote Carl Sagan again: “National boundaries are not evidenced when we view the earth from space. Fanatic ethnic or religious or national identifications are a little difficult to support when we see our planet as a fragile, blue crescent fading to become an inconspicuous point of light against the bastion and citadel of the stars.” We believe that although some knowledge about our Universe should be a birthright of all young children, it is among the economically disadvantaged children that the need is greatest. In general such children will have less opportunity to hear about the enchantment of space. For these reasons UNAWE therefore mainly targets economically disadvantaged children between the ages of 4 and 10 years. In 2004 I began exploring whether there was interest in setting up such a programme. Richard West and Claus Madsen at ESO were extremely supportive and I was in a position to provide some initial support for UNAWE from a grant provided by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. We were lucky to recruit Carolina Ödman as UNAWE Project Manager and in 2006 our small UNAWE International Office at Leiden was funded for a three year period by a special grant provided by the then Netherlands Minister of Education Culture and Science, Mrs. van der Hoeven. UNAWE has since developed into a thriving international network of almost 100 dedicated people. Although UNAWE is a bottom-up programme in which each partner develops their own programme tailored to individual needs, there is clearly a great need to embed this in an international network. Not only does the network provide a platform for the exchange of ideas, methods and materials, but the international aspect is also an important asset in raising support. UNAWE as a `whole` is greater than the sum of its national parts. Outreach to young children requires very special talents. During the last few years it has been my privilege to meet the many remarkable and enthusiastic experts who are involved in the implementation of UNAWE around the world and witness the excitement and enjoyment of young children exposed to UNAWE. As a global cornerstone programme of the UN-declared International Year of Astronomy, UNAWE will embark upon a new stage of its development in 2009. We are welcoming several new partner countries and are reaching out to more disadvantaged young children than ever before. It is our ambition that within a decade there will be a UNAWE programme within every country in the world. With its combination of social educational and scientific goals and its potential role in stimulating international development, UNAWE is a unique programme that warrants support.

George Miley Co-Chair UNAWE International Steering Committee Vice President, International Astronomical Union


Universe Awareness for Young Children – Newsletter

Contact information:

Next Newsletter:

Carolina Ă–dman Universe Awareness Leiden Observatory PO Box 9513 2300 RA Leiden The Netherlands

If you wish to contribute to the UNAWE Newsletter feel free to send us your contributions at any time. The newsletter is published on the basis of the density of news, without fixed editorial deadlines.

Tel +31715275816 Fax +31715275743

December 2008

Universe Awareness is an international programme aimed at inspiring young children worldwide with the beauty and scale of the universe. UNAWE is a global cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 For more information:

Support UNAWE: If you wish to support Universe Awareness projects, the UNAWE Foundation will make sure your support goes to the right place. The UNAWE Foundation is a charitable organisation based in the Netherlands. It was established to enable the various projects and programmes to be sponsored privately with legal guarantees of transparency and accountability. Full name

Stichting Universe Awareness Foundation


Niels Bohrweg 2, 2333 CA Leiden, The Netherlands

KvK number


VAT number

NL 8191.26.998.B01





Account #

Account Holder



Postbus 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands


ABN AMRO, Stationsweg, Postbus 66, 2300 AB Leiden, The Netherlands


UNAWE Newsletter, December 2008  

Newsletter - December 2008