By Sandra Benítez Herrera
My favourite moment at the schools is the end of the introductory talk. This is the moment when I know magic is going to happen.
The students remain silent, expectant, while the GalileoMobile members distribute coloured pieces of paper: blue, yellow, green … Every kid receives one. But what for? Their serious faces seem to ask. “Everybody has a piece of paper? Good, then we are going to built our own telescope!” A quick rumour raises through the room, “are these people crazy? We know it is not possible to do that!” “Just fold the paper in a cylinder shape and look at the screen through it!”. The kids, obediently, though a bit skeptically, follow the instructions. “Hold it firm! Don’t let it go!”
The music begins. A few stars and nebulae slowly start flying around in the screen. Everybody in the room, including the teachers, are looking at them through their small, colourful little telescopes. “We are at the Orion Nebula now, look at those dark clouds! Stars are being born there!” A general “oh” runs across the room as a huge nebula travels directly to us and we pass through it like a fast rocket. Children laughter. I look around for a moment. Some of the kids open their mouths in a constant, silent exclamation. Others nervously jump in their chairs as different astronomical objects “approach” them. They all look so excited and happy. They are literally flying through the universe, there, in the same classroom they attend everyday. Magic.
“And know we are leaving our Galaxy! Say goodbye to the Milky Way!” All kids wave goodbye as we leave our home behind and enter a huge space filled with thousand of other worlds, and so we fly for another couple of minutes among them. Galaxies of all colours: spirals with their beautiful arms clearly defined, huge bright ellipticals, “we are passing by our closest neighbour Andromeda!”
The music reaching its maximum, uniting every of us in this cosmic journey, which now comes to its end as we directly fly towards a huge elliptical galaxy in the middle of a big cluster. “Oh, oh, here it comes!” All children repeat laughing “Oh, oh, it is coming!”. The video stops just as we are about to be devoured by this cosmic monster. Explosion of voices and joy, what a cool trip! A shy little girl that asks, “can we do it again?”.
(You can recreate this magic moment by building your own telescope with a piece of paper and then clicking here.)