2022 Recommended Projects

Every year, the OAD receives numerous, good quality proposals that we are unable to support. We compile these projects on to a ‘Recommended List’, which is shared here for the benefit of potential funders. The 2022 Recommended List has 15 projects. Read the project summaries below.

Please contact us to support or collaborate with one or more of the projects.

Project Title Target countries Summary
Training astro guides in the Northern Cape, South Africa South Africa Unemployment is a debilitating aspect of humanity. This can be alleviated by creating income opportunities for capable individuals to fulfill their potential by becoming ambassadors of science and astronomy.
To set up a pilot project in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa which will identify and train people in a selected community (possibly Calvinia)  to become ambassadors of science and specifically the science of astronomy. The trainees will become Astronomy Tourist Guides in order to present “star shows” to the public.
The aim is to provide the opportunity to become entrepreneurs by self-employment. If this pilot project proves to be successful (see below),  then the next step would be to expand the project throughout the Northern Cape Province in viable towns along main tourist routes. A new application will be made for follow up projects.
To Achieve the above mentioned goal an agreement must be reached between OAD and the targeted municipal council in the Northern Cape Province (look below and question 15 “Risks”). The Municipal Councils are, in general, very poor and will be unable to assist where big financial burdens are involved. Thus, a cooperation agreement between “OAD” (our team sponsored by OAD) and the municipal councils would be advantageous to all.
OAD provides the training to the recipients for free.
OAD provides telescopes and other basic equipment.
The municipal council provides the viewing terrain with facilities, storage space as well as goodwill.
Responsibilities of the Municipal Council: The selected Town Council provides two sites. The first is a safe store room where our team can store the equipment such as telescopes, binoculars, green lasers, laptop and video projector. The second site is a dark sky site, that is accessible to the public, safe, with toilets, and that needs to be accessible to people with disabilities.
Astro-Archeological Mapping Nigeria  

Nigeria’s archaeoastronomy and ethnoastronomy is as diverse as her over 300 ethnic groups. Most of the ethnic groups have astronomy-rich cultures and practices. The sky entities (Sun, Moon and the Stars) are seen to manifest natural and supernatural powers and this inspires reverence and fear. Therefore, a good understanding and application of the cosmological ideas of a people are the basic prerequisites for achieving a balanced social, economic, political and technological development. This is one of the greatest challenges of our time being able to revolutionize the thought pattern of the public; “scientificating” our worldview and linking it with other worldviews; and demystifying the “mysterious heavenlies”. The indigenous, endogenous, traditional, or cultural astronomy focuses on the many ways that people and cultures interact with celestial bodies. However, most of these sites are being destroyed by uninformed persons within the communities (calling them idols).  Examples are:
1.The Ikom stone circle known as Akwanshi, the stone circles are believed to be about 2000 years old. These Stones have a pictographic script suspected to be Nsibidi, found at Emangebe.
2.At Otobo-Dunoka, Lejja, stands a mysterious site with a large clusters of iron slag arranged in line with movement of the Sun, Moon and Venus.
Therefor the objectives of this project are as follows:
1. Identify the locations of interest
2. Conduct a reconnaissance survey, interviews (custodians priests/ chiefs) and pick the geographical coordinates of such locations
3. Tourism training tips for the affected communities
4. Preparation of a comprehensive write-up on each site and its astronomy semblance.
5. The Geo-informatic scientist(s) will populate all the information gathered in a GIS environment cum database.
6. The maps/ tour guide are then produced in hard and soft copy booklets and made available at the ministries of tourism, universities, OAD offices and websites.

“Allande Stars: Discovering the culture and heritage of the rural area through Astronomy” Spain  

Allande Stars project aims to share Science and Astronomy in Allande, a rural area in North Spain, an isolated mountainous land with very little access to science outreach programs. Over the last 60 years the region has suffered from a dramatic decline losing an 80% of its population and leading to a permanent recession on basic services. This situation however, has favoured the preservation the pristine environmental conditions of the area providing unique framework for sustainable development projects, in particular, the quality of the night sky offers outstanding conditions for Astronomy outreach activities.
The project is an initiative launched in 2020 by a local female scientist. During three days, a team of experts travels in a van to different places bringing scientific knowledge to small villages.
The activities of the two first editions consisted of hands-on workshops, participative talks and night sky observations with storytelling of legends from Allande. The main topics were related to our place in the Universe and the relation between local cultural heritage and Astronomy. Both programs reached more than 300 people from rural areas of all ages, genders and backgrounds and the local population was actively engaged with the project and committed to provide long-term support.
The results, published in different journals and conferences, show that the project is stimulating the life in the villages, motivating young people, providing role models of women in Science and raising awareness about the preservation of the high-quality night sky. As a consequence, an initiative of sustainable local socio-economic development through Astronomy has araised from Allande townhall which is now applying for the Starlight Certification as a dark-sky site.
Most of the funding is not granted for the next edition and won’t be available from 2023. As the project is planned to expand with new activities, other sources of funding will be needed to guarantee its continuation.

Girl for Code: learning technology for development Chile  

Encouraging female students to learn to code and acquire transferable programming skills is a vehicle for development. Girls x Code  will work with female students and teachers from vulnerable areas in Chile to produce resources that can democratize access to technology and coding skills. The contents of these resources will borrow from the wealth of techniques and data used in astronomy. We strongly wish to allow the vulnerable students of Chile to look into the world of coding and see it as a viable option for their future. Girls x Code will promote inclusion and enhance job and occupational perspectives unavailable in the current school system.
Our plan has four stages:
1) Co-creation of activities with teachers to implement projects related to astronomy programming (Months 1 to 3). We will validate the proposed activities via collaboration with scientists and teachers belonging to partner institutions and groups. We will also select the beneficiary schools, considering their proximity to the university and the social vulnerability index as criteria.
2) Implementation of the activities for girl students (using Python’s Jupyter notebooks) on free cloud services and creation of accompanying explanatory videos (Months 2 to 4).  Google’s collab server (https://colab.research.google.com/) is ideal for hosting our Jupyter notebooks without additional cost.
3) We will increase the reach of our project by offering online training sessions for teachers from all over the country who are interested in learning to code and implement our projects in their respective schools. (Months 5 to 7). We expect to obtain impact indicators through participant surveys (Months 8 to 10).
4) Analysis of results and report. We will publish all resources on open-source platforms and the institutional website.  In addition, we will communicate the project results in a closing activity aimed mainly at participating families and schools. (Months 11 and 12).

Astronomy as a tool for Education in Public Libraries Romania, Republic of Moldova  

By learning about the role of astronomy and science in daily life, the project will equip young people from primary and secondary school in rural areas with knowledge that encourage them to think critically and autonomously, and in the same time increase their science literacy at the age when their curiosity is high, their value systems are being formed and seeds of future aspirations are being sown. The project will be a first step in developing their skills to become educated active citizens and we will encouraged them to take ownership over their education needs, being empowered to act and contribute to positive change by defending their rights and others’ to education.
The project objective will be realised though a series of workshops/seminars on scientific themes held in public libraries from rural areas. We plan to continue our previous work in 6 public libraries to innovate and diversify library services and to involve at least one more from our neighbour country, Republic of Moldova (Belcești, Ceplenița, Cotnari, Deleni, Erbiceni and Șipote villages  in Iasi county, Romania and Leușeni village in Hâncești County, Republic of Modova). Every library will be the host for one face-to-face meeting between members of the local astroclubs and public interested with an educator, while the other participant libraries will join the activities from distance through online meetings. A total of 10 workshops/seminars on astronomy and sciences related themes relevant to daily life will be organized: 1 at the beginning of the project, 7 at local libraries, 1 with an ad-hoc subject and one at the end of the project. Every seminar will end with a practical activity – sky observation, on-site and/or remotely.
Overall, the activities will offer trainings to kids in the form of workshops, online webinars and practical astronomy, while creating and building a community of astroclubs for the general public for years to come.

Pilot program: Astrostays in the middle of the world Ecuador  

The pandemic restricted people’s mobility, however an increase in tourism is expected to recover all over the world. Ecuador, recognized as an attractive travel destination, has more natural sites to visit than the Galapagos Islands, nevertheless, continental and rural regions remain still unexplored. La Chorrera, located near the Equator, is a poor fisherman village with welcoming customs. Although it is known for its gastronomy and beautiful beaches, it lacks places to stay making the experiential tourism underdeveloped. Tourists look for an immersion travel but the host conditions are under-qualified. Being in the neighborhood of the equatorial line, it is a perfect place to observe the sky and learn about the astronomical history of Ecuador. The first geodesic mission landed in this coastal in 1736, and the environment remains preserved to nowadays.
Current project aims to develop (1) experiential tourism in La Chorrera, and (2) to create a space for undergraduate students to acquire social skills, use technical skills learned in their institutions for the benefit of the community and open a alternative carreer in the tourism industry.
This project will restore and adapt local houses to receive tourists to stay overnight and additionally offer an experience based on astronomical features and fishermen culture. For this purpose, members of Ecuadorian universities will develop guides, digital platforms, and provide training to community members on topics regarding astronomy and everyday physical phenomena.
This initiative aims to complement the ongoing project of the Coaque Astronomical & Archaeological Museum and contribute in the sustainable rural astrotourism. The developmental goal focuses on the idea of building sustainable and decent work possibilities for the inhabitants of La Chorrera and nearby coastal equatorial region, involving academics in the solutions of social problems of Ecuador and exploring the sky from the middle of the world.

IDP Children Astronomy Outreach Nigeria  

This project aims to use Astronomy as a tool to educate, counsel and heal traumatized children from conflicts related to farmers-herdsmen and Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
The number of displaced persons in Nigeria has increased astronomically due to the constant attacks by Boko Haram Insurgents on villages in many parts of Northern Nigeria. This situation has caused greater problems of inequality, poverty and reduced opportunities for children caught up in these conflicts.
Our team has previously carried out two successful projects with different IDP kids in the past, funded by OAD, including an intervention for Covid-19. https://awbnigeria.org/idp-children-astronomy-outreach-project/  https://awbnigeria.org/covid-19-support-for-internally-displaced-persons-project/
Many IDP camps in the Northern part of Nigeria are becoming soft targets for further attacks by the Boko Haram Insurgents, the government has since opened new IDP camps in the safer Southern part of the country. This project will be carried out in one of such IDP camps, located in the relatively safer South Southern region of the country.
The plan is to have an Astronomy outreach to cater for 500 IDP children and to provide a solar-powered Astronomy Learning Hub. Create awareness on astronomy with children that have been displaced due to the insurgency, stimulate their interest in education and enrolling in STEM careers; motivate them to think and imagine beyond their circumstances and believe that they also reach greater heights.
Project activities will include hands-on activities, such as tinkering with microcontrollers/DC motors, educative documentaries, Stargazing with Telescopes, etc. A major aspect of the project will be counselling sessions by professional counsellors to carry out Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) on these kids who are mostly traumatized. This will be paid for by one of our major partners, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons

Installation of “Astro Digital Library” in underserved communities through decentralised digital intervention. India  

UNESCO reports a US $148 billion annual financing gap in low and lower-middle-income countries to achieve SDG 4 by 2030[1] and the pandemic has widened this gap. In India, pandemic along with chronic digital divide impeded access to education for millions of students, making national quality education targets unattainable. A community owned second chance education[2] platform is a feasible solution to tackle the digital divide and promote quality education at the grass-roots. Astro Digital Library, envisaged on similar lines, is a decentralized community-owned digital library targeting geographically/socially/economically underserved communities with limited or no access to the internet. It lets people to consume the educational content without the need of internet.  ADL server hosts 250 GB of localized astronomy educational content[2]. All community members can access this via the computers (~5) in the ADL centre or via Wi-Fi hotspots (3 routers covering ~0.5 km) using their devices. A maximum of 50 people can access ADL concurrently. The content curation, creation and translation will be led by Open Space Foundation (OSF) educators team. The resources will be published as Open Educational Resources (OER) under Creative Commons (CC) licence. Other STEAM resources will also be uploaded in the future. The project will be implemented in Ahamalai tribal village, Theni, Tamil Nadu and Ambedkar Community Computing Center (AC3), Bengaluru, Karnataka, where OSF has been conducting astronomy sessions and other educational intervention. Student leaders will be identified and offered skill development training to own and manage ADL. Leadership training ensures ownership and knowledge transfer, thereby creating successive leadership. OSF will collaborate with local governments and local actors to establish a strong and continued community support, and ownership of ADL will be devolved to the community in due course.

Stone Edge All Sky (SEAS) Survey WAROAD (Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso  

In May 2020, GLAS Education (NAROAD member), in partnership with the WAROAD, launched a project to provide students whose astronomy opportunities had been reduced or discontinued due to COVID to participate in remote observing with the 0.5-meter Stone Edge Observatory telescope. Data hotspots were purchased for 23 students so they could participate remotely with astronomers and staff at GLAS Education on a variety of projects. The work resulted in 30 online planning and teaching sessions, the compilation of online resources in a Google Classroom, over 50 hours of observing, three presentations at professional conferences, an AAS Education Blog feature, and two published papers. In spite of these successes, there remains enormous untapped potential. The new project seeks to build a cohort of leaders and participants, increase the number of women participants, increase cultural understanding across ROADs, stabilize retention of new participants, promote consistent progress toward research goals, and provide specialized research training opportunities. Furthermore, the skills obtained within the context of these projects will provide a foundation for big data applications and Python programming proficiency, necessary for both academic and industry positions.
Toward these goals the project will:
-Support experienced student project leaders to provide self identifiable role models for students in West Africa and liaison with the GLAS Education survey leadership team. Hence the project leaders, have agreed to dedicate an average of 5 hours per week toward continued work with SEAS, ensuring that the 10 participants who have been part of the project for the past twelve months make regular progress, recruit new participants, and co-design exchange programs. WAROAD will supervise this project in partnership with GLAS Education.
-Continue to provide local internet data access to participants
-Provide laptops for student project leaders
-Fund travel expenses to the US

Reaching the Needy Communities through Astronomy Education Uganda  

Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, once said “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that the child of a farmworker can become the president of a great nation…”
Through Reaching the Needy Communities through Astronomy Education (ReachAstro), we hope to reach out and engage at least 600 students from six secondary schools in Western Uganda over a course of one year. Three of these are girls-only schools, two are mixed secondary schools within refugee settlement camps, one mixed secondary school is home to indigenous and minority Batwa groups. Our team is currently made up of seven members of which three are females.Using astronomy education, these vulnerable and marginalised groups (refugees and indigenous children) will be exposed to the grand scale of the universe and how our planet Earth (where life as we know it, exists) is only but a tiny dot. We hope this will enable them to think beyond their current difficulties and work harder towards a meaningful and fulfilling life. To achieve this, different activities such as using the globe, satellite images taken from above the Earth’s atmosphere, model planets and their relative sizes, the scale of our solar system, etc will be organised. These will also allow learners to understand and appreciate our place in the universe. Activities such as construction of model rockets, simple computer gaming,  that encourage learners to participate in STEM subjects will also be conducted through workshops. Continuous assessment and evaluation of our performance will be done for each workshop, using multiple-choice questions and questionnaires issued before and after each workshop. All standard operating procedures set by the Ministry of Health and local leaders will be followed to ensure our activities do not in any way aid the transmission of Covid-19.

Space Flight Project: Mission Strato Nigeria  

The Space Flight Project: Mission Strato is designed to be a hands-on education program for Secondary School students. The aim of the project is to offer secondary school students the opportunity to design, develop and build a scientific experiment and fly it to the near-space region with a stratospheric balloon. A major objective of the project is to inspire the next generation of astronomers, scientists and engineers that will develop the next phase of Nigeria’s Space Research & Development Project.
IMPLEMENTATION PLAN: A website will be created that describes the project to Secondary Schools. The schools selected will be based on the experiment they are proscribing by an expert panel. The aim is to have 5 schools participating in the project. The participating schools are to select 2 girls and 2 boys to develop any science based experiment as a payload not exceeding 500g to be flown to the near space region and upon return to earth, data recorded will be presented, as well as, lessons learnt. A participating slot will be given to IDP (internally displaced persons) children that have been introduced to Astronomy in the past 2 years. The IDP team has proposed a project to measure pressure and temperature in the atmosphere as a function of altitude. Their payload will be able to measure pressure & temperature in the atmosphere as the balloon rises in altitude. The data retrieved from the balloon will be compared to the US Standard Atmosphere Air properties model. A presentation will be made before the peers in conclusion of their findings. Examples of experiments that can be flown to the near space region are Agricultural seeds (to test the effects of space conditions on plant seeds), astrobiological experiments (testing the survival of microbes in the upper atmosphere), collection of stratospheric samples (air/dust compositions), observatory missions (remote sensing from space) and using machine learning to record data from space environment. (continued in 19).

I Latin American Meeting of Teaching and Didactics of Astronomy Colombia  

From the Andean Astronomy ROAD, we have wanted to promote learning and the joint construction of knowledge among teachers. To teach/build knowledge and allow students to live a memorable learning experience we have wanted teachers to learn while enjoying Knowledge. Fortunately, astronomy, in addition to being entertaining, is presented as a common and transversal thread for many areas of knowledge and is interesting for teachers, young people, and children.

Astronomy can contribute to teaching work not only from the concepts and knowledge themselves, but it can also help to show human knowledge as a construction that intertwines the natural environment, with the human being and its purpose in the recognition of its planet home and space exploration. This will allow teachers and consequently their students to be able to see the future with dreamy eyes and with a thirst for knowledge in the long term.

Additionally, it seeks to address current issues and that each country is experiencing the problems we have with the slow but constant increase in light pollution to find ways to mitigate it. Also next year we will include several projects in which teachers and observatories can collaborate to teach students how interesting the data is. In general, the next Classroom Under the sky must link STEAM with the real situations the planet Earth is facing.

The theme next year, and each of the years in which the event takes place, will be related to astronomy and cultural sky knowledge. In 2022 the subject that will be related to Climate Crisis and how the Schools and Planetariums can work together to propose alternatives to mitigate this problem. The main idea would be to learn about the special place the Earth has in the universe and why we must protect it.

Astronomy through self-learning resources Chile (it could be expanded to other countries in the Southern hemisphere)  

AstroSLR addresses school children interested in astronomy/science and motivated teachers, to provide educational tools with a focus on analytical and critical thinking for lifelong learning skills.
Given the pandemic, vulnerable students in Chile are still attending remote classes (with government assistance to ensure a stable internet connection), without fluid access to some resources (e.g. computer lab, real-world experiments) and exposed to worrying trends on social networks, such as an increased amount of pseudoscientific claims, a harmful influence in terms of developing learning skills for development.
We want to close the gap regarding those skills, with an attractive approach and 3 key elements:
a) Learning and effective use of software/virtual tools to understand phenomena and sky observations;
b) Creation of educational crafts (e.g. sundials, star wheels, etc.) in combination with concepts from a);
c) Development of critical thinking to analyze lessons from a) and b), using pseudosciences and how to debunk them (e.g. “hoax” of Apollo missions).
The concepts will be addressed with 10-15 people “working groups” (WGs) from Antofagasta and open slots for WGs from Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
We will use online platforms, but most of the learning won’t come from “Zoom calls”, but from the student’s self-learning and use of virtual tools (e.g. Stellarium) from their PCs/phones; to create the crafts there will be accurate, printable templates; debunking pseudosciences will be a “DIY” activity: the children will do actions at home (e.g. take a certain photo) to demonstrate a phenomenon, independently, reinforcing reproducibility in science.
We include a call period to search for WGs (locally and abroad), in coordination with Andean ROAD officers, to contact key institutions/educators under a first-come, first-served basis.
All WGs will receive online directions at the start of each “module” and all deliverables/results will be shared in a dedicated website.

South West and Central Asian Regional Workshop and Internship SWCA ROAD countries: Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkey  

The project is aimed at organizing a regional workshop and internship: “South West and Central Asian Regional Workshop” on 12-16 September, 2022, two months internships for the regional students, as well as publishing scientific and popular materials. The subject of the workshop will be “Space Sciences and Technologies”, as this is rather important for the integration of our regional countries in this rapidly developing area and the project will help to promote Space Sciences and Technologies to South West and Central Asian (SWCA) region. The project will be focused on hands on activities and effective communication skills. Young scientists and students from the SWCA region are the target group of the project, as well as senior researchers who will serve as tutors. From each country (Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Turkey) a young astronomer will be chosen for having 2 months internship at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO). BAO with its facilities will serve as the host of the workshop. It has guest house, canteen, conference rooms, etc.; all necessary facilities for the successful accomplishment of the project. BAO has large experience in organization of many conferences, workshops and summer schools. The Local Organizing Committee of the workshop, consists of 10 members – mostly young researchers and students of BAO and some other Armenian research institutions, universities, as well as volunteers. The project will also contribute to promote IAU’s visibility in the region. An individual session of the workshop will be devoted to IAU OAD and SWCA ROAD activities. By the collaboration of the Armenian and Turkish astronomers (and all other countries) the workshop will promote peace and prosperity in the academic sphere.

Multisensorial Astronomical Kit for Exploring the Universe (MAKE the Universe) We will target disadvantaged contexts of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia and Nigeria. Translated versions will be ready for use in Latin America and most of the Mediterranean Area.  

The Universe is mainly perceived as a beautiful set of colorful objects; this is because visualization is still the main mean used for conveying astronomy in academic contexts, in schools and to the public. This can be misleading about the real study of the Universe, which is mostly about revealing signals out of background noise; numbers over a threshold, that could actually be converted into anything that can be perceived.
This project consists in reproducing simple sets of real astronomical data, creating artworks that make them understandable with all senses. We will produce kits and tutorials with inspirational hints for the creation of free, original and imaginative multisensorial representations of the Universe. Data will mainly be non-visible (radio, X, etc.), crucial in modern astrophysics and in principle equally accessible regardless of any vision ability.
The project targets 5-8 and 9-13 age groups in disadvantaged and marginalized contexts (suburbs, prisons, schools with high presence of migrants), usually not able to access astronomical culture, particularly in creative and collaborative contexts.
After a first experimentation and evaluation phase, kits will be distributed to participating countries for use in formal (schools), non-formal or informal (extracurricular) educational contexts, with the help of a facilitator. Groups and facilitators will also carry some warming up activities, with the aims of training the facilitators in their delicate and important role, but also of spreading the many existing DIY astronomy activities within IAU and beyond. Activities and tutorials will be published online in all available languages.
We expect this project to result in expressing the real nature of astrophysics, in fostering awareness about diversity and in empowering and nurturing self-confidence about astronomy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, also thanks to the creation of comfortable learning environments.