Bringing Astronomy to Rural Communities of Colombia

Students in Colombian rural schools show a great interest in science despite the multiple infrastructural and historical disadvantages affecting their education. The RECA Education Program was born in 2021 to actively engage in activities to bring astronomy to schools in Colombia during the pandemic. We saw how the use of the internet facilitated reaching more people through virtual means that we have available. However, out of 42 schools from rural areas reaching out requesting a live virtual talk with an astronomer, only 10 have taken place, and some were pre-recorded. We realized that reaching these populations is extremely challenging if we rely solely on current communication channels. About 57% of the country does not have internet access, mainly in rural areas of Colombia ( Therefore, it is necessary to create alternative channels to reach these communities wanting to quench their scientific curiosity.

Our BARCo proposal seeks to promote science education in Colombian rural schools by providing activities with resources available to them despite the absence of internet connectivity. We want to reach 100 schools in rural areas each with ~50 children ages 5-15, targeting ~5000 children total. We will send a box containing materials for conducting fundamental astronomy activities, games, and a USB drive with written and recorded instructions, and short interviews of Colombian astronomers. We will also upload all materials to our website ( and YouTube channel. Having these digital materials allow for reprinting and distributing the activity to other local rural and urban schools, expanding the project’s reach and ensuring its continuation in the following years.

Despite knowing that plastic is not the best choice from an environmental perspective, given the challenging access and geographical conditions of rural areas in Colombia, we are considering using a plastic box. The box will be organized by our team and sent to the schools with the help of local colleagues and educational organizations. In order to ensure that the activities are taking place correctly, we will ask teachers to take videos or photos and email them to us when possible. We will also motivate a final activity where each school makes a creative ‘Voyager Golden Record’ sharing their traditional customs and related astronomy knowledge. We will compile all these Records and upload them to our website for the world to see.

Astronomy is a universal science that transcends borders, languages, and cultures. Our project will bring together students from diverse backgrounds and identities to learn about astronomy and work on collaborative projects. We will foster greater understanding and cooperation among different groups in Colombia allowing networks between communities that may have historically been divided. Thus, this project will be a tool for promoting scientific literacy, social harmony, and peace in Colombia.