The project organized a 6-days workshop for 61 science teachers in Monrovia, Liberia. The educational system, as one of the key drivers for social and economic development, is in a devastating condition after two civil wars and the Ebola crisis. The workshop aimed at supporting the teachers with basic astronomy knowledge and classroom experiments to use astronomy as a gateway to scientific literacy. Overall, the workshop was a success with broadly positive feedback from participants and shareholders. Connections were established with the University of Liberia for future workshops and valuable lessons learnt on how to improve the intervention strategy for the future.
Focus on three main fields: mathematics, physics, and astronomy. Addition sessions on lesson planning, sustainable resources management, and ideas for teaching methods and classroom response systems. Most sessions were held as lectures with a few parallel sessions in the teachers were split into two groups. The University of Liberia offered tutorial sessions in the evening for the teachers in which they were working on additional exercises.
The main impact was the direct sharing of knowledge, specifically, exposure to local, low-cost materials to conduct classroom experiments. With support from the IAU, Adaeze Ibik, a female astronomer from Nigeria was invited as a lecturer. In the final evaluation, several teachers highlighted that it was important and inspirational for them to be taught by a female scientist. In an environment with more than 95% male science teachers, it is crucial to increase the visibility of female scientists.
Two evaluations were conducted, one before and one after the teacher workshop. One part of the evaluation was to ask for the teachers’ opinion, comments, and feedback. The other part was content-based multiple-choice questions to assess whether the teachers have improved due to our workshop. Before the workshop, some teachers were not interested in astronomy and teaching methods. However, if we compare it with the post-evaluation, we can see that most teachers appreciate the time we spent on these two topics, or even asked for more time.