On 2-3 October 2013, GalileoMobile visited Manafwa College in Mbale city. During this stay, GalileoMobile offered astronomy-related activities to teachers and students and presented a Café-Sci session. Over a 1,000 students attended our activities and gathered in a farewell ceremony which configured the end of GalileoMobile activities in Uganda.
Our activities at Manafwa started with the opening talk, led by Fabio. We proceeded with the first session of the workshop for teachers. The workshops are comprised of an introduction to the donated materials and to inquiry-based teaching, a demonstration of some activities of the GalileoMobile handbook of activities, Galileoscope assembling and pointing, and an introduction to Stellarium. The workshops are endorsed by the Galileo Teacher Training Programme.
Shortly after lunch, we witnessed the pray time of the students. They were gathered in a classroom and a female student preached the word, while the other students mumbled their own prayers. Songs and beats of drums also made part of this ceremony. Worth noting is that both catholic and Muslim students are enrolled at Manafwa College. They all live together in harmony.
In the afternoon, we performed activities with students of two different classes, each one of them had two GalileoMobile members leading. These classes were comprised of 120 students, which was a large number even for Ugandan schools. We performed ‘The Earth’s orbit’ and ‘Rotation of the Sun’ activities from our handbook and practised telescope pointing.
In the morning of the second day, we worked again with teachers and in the afternoon with other two groups of students. This time we performed ‘The Earth as a Peppercorn!’ and simulated the Moon phases and eclipses. Both activities were a great success. The former because students felt amused by the size of our planetary system and the latter because of the total solar eclipse, which will occur on the 3 November 2013, and will be visible from Uganda.
The Café-Sci session took place during lunch time of the second day. Our team member Nuno presented the Café-Sci about the sun and stars.
We finished our activities with a farewell ceremony. At this moment, we took the opportunity to donate the material and finish our linguistic exchange of astronomy-related words translated to local language. In addition, some students stepped forward to sing and play the drums with us. At the very end, Betty Kituyi, our collaborator, asked the students to sing a song for us: “Well done, well done, my Galileo Team!” Hundreds of students chorused this refrain. The feeling of unity under the same sky reached us all.
Many students manifested their interest in organising GalileoMobile clubs in their schools. In particular, at Manafwa, we left a sample of a GalileoMobile handbook of activities to the science club. We are looking forward to see what these wonderful and motivated students will prepare for the solar eclipse!