Chilean children closer to Space

12 November, 2008

As part of the educational mission to bring astronomical knowledge closer to school-age children, last Wednesday November 12th the USACH Planetarium inaugurated the radio astronomy school network -financed by ALMA- marking the beginning of the Astronomy Project for the Bicentenary.

Over 250 schoolchildren of various public and private schools from Arica to Punta Arenas, together with representatives of ALMA and the Universidad de Santiago, on November 12th attended an entertaining ceremony at the Planetarium to mark the beginning of the Astronomy Project for the Bicentenary, “From the Visible to the Invisible Universe”, financed by ALMA through the ALMA-CONICYT fund for the development of astronomy in Chile.

After the welcoming words by the President of the Universidad de Santiago, highlighting the importance of creating this National Radio Astronomy School Network, the attendants were able to enjoy a show by the Planetarium and appreciate the operation of the solar telescopes and the RadioJOVE antenna installed at the audiovisual centre as a prototype of the ones to be distributed to the various schools.

This activity was followed by an exhibition of the “Lego Farm” project, a Lego robot designed by students at the IT Department of the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, a scale replica of the control systems for devices at the ALMA observatory. The delegation of 20 students from the Likan Antai C-30 public school in San Pedro de Atacama stood-out among the 50 schools taking part.

The delegation was accompanied by the Principal, Mrs. Myriam Nancy Rivera; Education Assistant, Mrs. María Luisa Cruz; and the Head of the Astronomy Workshop, Professor María Solange Molina, who referred to the event in the following way: “Attending this ceremony has been a privilege and an unforgettable experience –above all on account of what it represents for our schools and for the students attending the workshop, who are all spontaneously motivated and very enthusiastic This is undoubtedly an opportunity to grow and learn though significant experiences, full of moments for play and instances which contribute to learning in all spheres of their formation as a person. I am certain they will clearly enjoy doing all the activities within the Astronomy program for the bicentenary: from the visible to the invisible universe, the school radio astronomy network fostered by the Planetarium and the Departments of Physics and Engineering at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile, framed within the ALMA-CONICYT Project, to whom we are very grateful for their most valuable contribution to the education of our young people”. Each school taking part was given an astronomic kit including a radio antenna, and educational handbook, a solar telescope or “Solar Scope”, and another traditional optical telescope for observing planets, among other gifts by ALMA.

The schoolchildren, together with their guiding teachers, within the framework of the Radio Astronomy School Network will conduct at least 3 activities with each of the instruments, related to receiving and studying the radio signals emitted by the Sun and Jupiter, following-up on the solar spots and detecting and following-up on visible planets of the Solar System.

With this outstanding participation, ALMA continues committed to its mission of bringing the marvels of the universe closer to Chilean people.

For further information:
William Garnier
ALMA Public Relations Officer

event in planetarium
María Solange Molina, head teacher of the Likan Antai public school in San Pedro de Atacama, receives the radio astronomy kit; to her left, the President of the Universidad de Santiago, Dr. Juan Manuel Zolezzi Cid.
event in planetarium
Professor Fernando Franco, creator of the Radio Astronomy Activities Course Handbook, supervises use of the Solar Scope for detecting solar spots