On the 30th September and 1st October 2013, GalileoMobile visited the first school in Mbale city. During these two days, GalileoMobile offered astronomy-related activities to teachers and students and presented a Café-Sci session. Over a thousand pupils attended the activities and were exposed to astronomy for the first time. Extrasolar planets, life on the universe and the change of climate according to the position on planet Earth were the mostly asked topics.
This time, instead of the opening talk, our activities started with the workshop for teachers. This change in our agenda was done to fit the school schedule.
After the workshop, we broke for lunch. The meal was served in the teachers’ room. Matoke (cooked plantain), beans, rice, and a meat sauce constitutes the daily meal of teachers and also ours. Cabbage, cassava or sweet potato can also be part of Ugandan typical food.
In the afternoon we performed activities with students of two different classes. Each one of them had two GalileoMobile members leading the activities. We opted for working with only two classes because, in this school, each class had 80 students! We performed ‘The Earth’s orbit’ and ‘Building a heliocentric model’ activities from the GalileoMobile handbook of activities.
After classes were finished, we gathered the students in a brief assembly for the material donation. The Galileoscope, kindly offered by the Office for Astronomy Development, was part of the resources donated. Immediately after, hundreds of students followed the opening talk presented by Nuno.
We we were about to leave the school when we met the siblings Rose, Gifty, David, Remi and James. They were the school keeper’s children. Their smiles and the strong connection with the team made the end of the first day at Mbale S. S. School.
In the morning of the second day, we worked again with teachers and in the afternoon with other two classes of students. This time we performed ‘The Rotation of the Sun’ and practised telescope pointing. The lovely siblings were around the team all the time, also getting a chance to glimpse the school through the telescope.
To finish the activities promoted by GalileoMobile, Pati presented the Café-Sci session about Galaxies and Universe. Then, we proceeded with our linguistic exchange, when volunteers stepped forward to translate some astronomy-related words in local language. Postcards of the cosmos donated by ESO were also distributed to the students. Then, a phenomenon which had also happened in other schools took place: dozens of students asked our contacts, to sign their postcards, to take pictures… All in all, they wanted keep in touch. And we too! No one wanted to never ever ever forget that moment.
The students and the little Roses, Giftys, Davids, Remis and James will be forever in our hearts. “I am staying, guys. You can go!”, said Fabio referring to the lovely siblings, who he had intensely photographed along the two days. “She is about to cry”, noticed Maria Serena from the film crew, after looking to Rose’s eyes the moment we left the school and said goodbye.
Note: Mbale is an upcountry school with 4,000 students population. The school offered their bus “staff shuttle – triumph beyond the starts” to transport the team members of GalileoMobile during the full stay in Mbale. We are very grateful by this gesture, and found the coincidence very graceful!