Astronomy Workshop in Nigeria Targets Female Students

The Astro Girl project, in collaboration with the Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency, and Centre for Basic Space Science and Astronomy, completed an astronomy training workshop for eighty female students. The 3 day workshop was held in Ebirimiri-Agu Umuakashi, Nsukka, Enugu State, from 7 to 9  June 2023. The workshop aimed at building capacity among girls, and also encouraged them to study STEM subjects such as astronomy and space science.

The main objectives were to increase literacy among the participants, increase the level of participation of girls in astronomy and space science, and,  in the long term, produce female scientists who will contribute to space science development and the economy of Africa.

a. Solar system Modelling: This activity was executed at CBSS observatory complex on 7th of June 2023, attended by 100 female students and 22 school teachers. The session involved the identification of solar system planets with their distances, modelling and painting of planets, and aligning of the planets on a solar system board.
b. Construction of Optical telescopes: This activity was executed using locally sourced materials. It involved building of optical telescopes with the materials provided which include plano convex lenses, PVC pipes, socket reducers, eyepiece etc.
c. Building of Light Spectroscopes: This session involved cutting, joining and painting of thick cardboard papers. Also, its perforations and insertion of CD plates which reflects the colours of the light spectrum.
e. Stargazing: Stargazing activities were held at CBSS observatory complex on the 9th of June 2023. The stargazing section involved the use of an Explore Scientific telescope provided by CBSS and the use of the optical telescopes constructed during the workshop.

The students successfully modelled our solar system, constructed simple light spectrum kits and constructed optical telescopes using the provided materials. The hands-on activities allowed the students to apply the physics and space science concepts learned during the workshop. The telescopes produced were used for stargazing activities at the various schools that participated.

Qualitative and quantitative feedback was collected from the participants. Participants gave positive feedback overall and suggested that astronomy clubs should be established in their various schools.