July 2013
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Debates winners in New York
SA learners scoop silver in Beijing
SA scientist impresses in FameLab
Nanotech draws attention in Kenya
SAASTA salutes David Block
Science Centre CEO awarded
Young science brainpower awarded
75 years of coelacanth research
Join in recording the diversity of life
Open your own Science Spaza
The Universe is expanding
"Space Skype" links kids
Coastal and marine science in SA
Internship programme
A scientist for a day
iThemba LABS - advancing knowledge
Ex ZooClub members' success
In the news
Upcoming events
It's a fact!

"Space Skype" links kids from across the world

 
  EU-UNAWE uses the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire young children and encourage them to develop an interest in science and technology.
 
  Nine-year-old learners take part in hands-on activities related to astronomy in Cascais, Portugal.
 
  The children thoroughly enjoyed learning about their night sky from the other side of the planet!
EU Universe Awareness (EU-UNAWE) organised an activity that brought children from Portugal and South Africa together via video link to learn about the stars and share their stories about the constellations shining over their home countries.

The idea for this activity originated with the South African Ambassador to Portugal, Ms Keitumetse Matthews during an SKA (Square Kilometre Array) reception at the embassy.

The Universe Awareness event, held on 20 May, kicked off at the Padre Agostinho da Silva primary school in Cascais (Portugal) when a group of 40 nine-year-old learners from the school travelled to the Matilde Rosa Ara˙jo secondary school to take part in several hands-on activities related to astronomy.

The activities organised during the day were developed by two teachers - Paula Furtado from the Matilde Rose Ara˙jo School and Edite Leal. These included telling the children stories about the constellations, inviting them to design their own constellations, discussions of the many different ways the Universe can be observed and a lesson on the difference between the ancient mythological stories behind the constellations and how we understand these groups of stars today.

Skype link

The activity day also included an exciting Skype link between the children in Portugal and a class of learners from Sutherland and the Carnarvon primary schools in the Northern Cape province. The SAAO (South African Astronomical Observatory) Education Officer in Sutherland, Karel Klein and Sam Rametse of the SKA led the activity in South Africa.

The two groups had the opportunity to discuss what they had learned earlier in the day and share the constellations they created. Using the UNAWE Earth ball they demonstrated to each other their locations on the planet. The learners spent the rest of the session discussing their schools, important people from their countries and other stories about the regions they live in.

The teacher from the Portuguese school told a traditional Portuguese story to the guests, called Lenda da Serra da Estrela. The story was told in English. It is about a shepherd's dog that dies and is transformed into the famous constellation Canis Majoris, at whose heart lies the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius. The story was chosen because Canis Majoris can be seen from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at alternate times of the year.

Despite a slight language barrier, the children were full of enthusiasm and energy, and thoroughly enjoyed learning about their night sky from the other side of the planet!

The Universe Awareness programme is implemented in Portugal by NUCLIO and in South Africa by NRF/SAAO.

About EU-UNAWE

EU-UNAWE uses the beauty and grandeur of the Universe to inspire young children and encourage them to develop an interest in science and technology. The programme also aims to introduce children to the idea of global citizenship and tolerance at a crucial stage of their development - to show them that they are part of an international community.