LAMPS: Leveraging local AstronoMy site to Promote STEM

The fields of STEM have long been recognized as key factors for socio-economic development. Although emphasized in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, acknowledging STEM as source of development remains a challenge for Madagascar. From a very young age, many struggle to see the direct relevance of STEM in daily lives and assume it as a dead end career path. LAMPS seeks to address such misconception at grassroot levels by leveraging the existence of the future radio astronomy African VLBI Network (AVN) site in Arivonimamo, a large rural town of around 30,000 population. Through Astronomy and STEM-oriented activities, we aim to promote STEM education; demonstrate the relevance of STEM for local socio-economic development; inform learners on the importance of Astronomy and STEM fields in daily life; and encourage them to pursue STEM-oriented studies/careers.

LAMPS is a two-stage outreach led by Ikala STEM, an association of women in STEM from Madagascar. First, volunteers will showcase the relevance of STEM subjects through Astronomy and science-based activities at the target schools. Two days later, a fair baptised STEM Kerimesy (a word for traditional highly attended festivals) consisting of interschool quiz competitions, inspiring women in STEM stories and hands-on activities (e.g. cardboard planisphere, light diffraction) will be held by astronomy and STEM-oriented associations.

Primary targets are learners from Grade 1 through high school. However, the event will be open freely to the general public to stimulate local STEM innovation. To ensure a maximum attendance, LAMPS will be advertised well in advance through local radio and banners/posters at the target community.

A project chart will be kept to track the milestones we expect to reach. LAMPS is already being endorsed by the local authority and four heads of school. We also have received the confirmation of three Malagasy STEM-based associations that are happy to collaborate with Ikala STEM.

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