Strengthening the Knua Prátika and Building future astronomers for Lorosa’e land (Timor-Leste)

Many students, teachers and community members of Timor-Leste recently witnessed and observed the total solar eclipse and lunar eclipse in Timor-Leste. These rare phenomena had a great impact on the community of Timor-Leste, especially for students; it increased their curiosity about these phenomena. There were many comments and arguments shared and discussed before and after the total solar eclipse on 20 April 2023. Before the Loro-mate total (Total Solar Eclipse) happened, many people didn’t believe it would happen until they witnessed and observed it by themselves. The SESIM team worked hard to share all the information related to solar eclipses with all laboratories (Knua Prátika) staff and students. We also coordinated with various astronomers and amateurs of astronomy, especially those from ASEAN to do the observation of the solar eclipse in Timor-Leste, including teams from, Indonesia, especially Institut Teknologi Sumatera with its adjacent ITERA Astronomical Observatory Lampung (OAIL), the Viet-Astro, Vietnam (amateur astronomical community), and The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand). With the support of the President of Timor-Leste and the Viet-Astro team of Vietnam, observations of the total solar eclipse were made live on our local TV channels and social media. The team could broadcast knowledge on safe eclipse observation before the eclipse. We acknowledge that there were many schools, students and teachers weren’t equipped with solar eclipse glasses and many unsafe solar eclipse glasses were sold to the community. There were only a few works of literature on science distributed to all schools related to astronomy. In such a small window of preparation, however, there is an increase in awareness of the knowledge needed to observe a total solar eclipse safely instead of not observing it altogether due to the government’s mandate.

Therefore, we would like to take advantage of this fund to organize science workshops with the teachers, especially for those working and organizing activities at the Knua prátika. We planned to organize 5 days of training at the Laboratory at Knua Prátika in Dili and are targeting 45 teachers (35 teachers from Dili and 13 teachers from each municipality. TLNCU/SESIM team will work with the Institute of Technology of Sumatera (ITERA), especially in the area of Astronomy, which is beneficial due to shared history and UNTL (Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e) Physics department and the Community Science Workshop of Salinas, California, USA. Through this workshop, our team will continually work to create learning materials or translate materials into our local language by making connections to the national curriculum and doing more training and providing learning materials for each Knua Pratika. Some learning topics for training are Astronomy: general concepts and local traditional knowledge; Meteorology: as relates to astronomy; Navigation equipment; sky observation models and exploration