29 March 2011

Astronomy Workshop

Recently we (the VVOB team in Cambodia) welcomed Philippe Mollet from the MIRA observatory in Grimbergen. His 3-week stint at the Kandal teacher training college started with a focus group. Participants discussed and selected the 15 most interesting items from a list of 30. In true “Mission Impossible” style, Philippe got 10 days to prepare the workshop. 
During the 3-day workshop, participants learned about these 15 astronomy topics. Focus was on the content, but also on finding ways to explain the often abstract astronomy topics in an accessible way.
Image courtesy P.Mollet
A nice way to impress for example is to ask them who big the Moon is in the sky. You can be sure they will show it much bigger than in reality (you can actually cover it with your little finger, even when there's a "supermoon")
During the three days, participants also learned (tried) to fire water rockets, analyze the spectrum of the Sun, walk along all the planets of the Solar system (on scale) and make a drawing of the Sun. In the evening, we were lucky to observe Jupiter and some interesting constellations such as the Orion.

The workshop's programme was more content driven than other workshops, responding to a need by teacher trainers to improve their understanding of these often abstract and complex issues.  Besides, tools and activities were offered (where possible low-cost ones) to teach astronomy in their own class.

From this workshop, participants obtained more detailed insights on astronomy, an important part in the earth science (and physics) curriculum. Above all, everyone was inspired by Philippe’s workshop.

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