Disadvantaged Students Trained as Astroguides in India

The aim of this project, run by AstronEra headed by Shweta Kulkarni, is to educate the tribal students about the field of astronomy and also give them an opportunity to generate an income using the skills gained through this program. These students are recognized as “AstroGuides” and are now set to organize stargazing programs and promote astrotourism.

The participating students belong to tribal communities in Maharashtra that are studying in Eklavya Model Residential School. The age group of the participating students is 14 to 20 year old. The tribal population is identified as the aboriginal inhabitants in India and are a vulnerable section of society.

Astrotribe conducted a pre-training test that was used to select students for the program. In level 1, 3 days of training were organized to teach students some foundational astronomy. Before the training, students were asked to produce a mind map which will be used as a baseline to assess the impact of the training. At the end of level 1, based on the astronomical knowledge gained and psychological evaluation, 16 out of 44 students were selected for level 2.

After a couple of training sessions in level 2, students will accompany the trainers to organize stargazing programs. The trainers will observe and evaluate them on stargazing and telescope handling, communications, and knowledge level showcased during these programs.


a. Pre Training test:
10 schools across the state of Maharashtra were contacted to participate in the project from which 3 responded positively. Two out of these schools conducted the tests provided to them by us and we received responses from 57 students.

b. Level 1: First training session: 3 days approximately 3 hours each day
Astronomical Topics covered-
i. Earth (Latitudes & Longitudes, Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Axis of the earth, rotation and revolution, seasons, Time Zones)
ii. Basic astronomical terms (Star, Planet, Satellites, Eclipses, Galaxy, Nebulae, Supernova etc.)
iii. Solar System (Sizes, distances, basic characteristics of each planet)
iv. Cosmic address (Milkey Way Galaxy, Local Galaxy Group, Virgo
v. Cluster, Laniakea Super Cluster, Universe)

Astronomical Activities-
i. Understanding movement of Earth and other planets, eclipses using body movement.
ii. Understanding distances in the Solar System by paper folding and drawing activity.
iii. Understanding the Solar System by using “Eyes on NASA”
iv. Game to talk about new things leant during the session and promote public speaking
v. Q&A , Feedback sessions

Psychological Activities –
i. Mind mapping knowledge of astronomy.

c. Level 1: Second training session: 3 days approximately 5 hours each day
Astronomical Topics Covered-
i. Stellar Life Cycle (Nebula, Protostars, Red Giants, Blue Giants, White dwarfs, Supernova, Blackhole, Neutron Stars, HR Diagram)
ii. Relevance between astronomy and other fields such as Biology, Chemistry, Computer Programming

Astronomical Activities-
i. Watching the movie, “Martian” and discussing about it.

Psychological Topics Covered-
iii. Interest in astronomy education
iv. Interest in Astronomy career
v. Public speaking
vi. Story telling

Psychological Activities –
i. Superstitions and Myths bursting discussion
ii. Discussion about study and career in astronomy
iii. Story telling through physical movements
iv. Writing about “Why I want to be involved in AstroTribe”
v. Q&A , Feedback sessions

d. Level 2: First training session: 2 days approximately 3 hours each day
Astronomical Topics Covered-
i. Telescopes (History, Types, sizes, structure, working)
ii. Positional Astronomy
iii. Indigenous stories documentation.

i. Observing through telescope (Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Double Cluster in Perseus)
ii. Experiencing Moon Landing through Virtual Reality Simulation Goggles.