NASRDA Trains Female Enugu Students On Astronomy, Space Science

National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) Centre for Basic Space Science in collaboration with the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU-OAD), successfully hosted a 3-days workshop themed “Astronomy Development for the Girl Child Using Optical Telescopes in Nigeria.”

The workshop which aimed to build capacity and ignite the interest of secondary school girls in astronomy and space science took place at the Centre for Basic Space Science and Astronomy Observatory Complex in Ebirimiri-Agu Umuakashi, Nsukka, Enugu State from 7th – 9th of June 2023.

The event-packed workshop provided training to female students selected from secondary schools within the Nsukka metropolis. The participating secondary schools were Herald College, Shalom Academy, St. Catherine’s Comprehensive Secondary School, Model Secondary School, Chidubem International Secondary School, and St. Cyprian’s Special Secondary School. The training focused on hands-on building of optical telescopes, solar system modelling, coupling of Galileoscopes, and star gazing.

To mark the event, the Director of the Centre Dr. B.I Okere, represented by Assistant Director Dr. C.N Ofodum, warmly welcomed the students and their teachers to the observatory complex. Dr. Ofodum emphasized that the centre boasts of highly qualified experts in the field of astronomy and space science, who are eager to share their knowledge and experience. He encouraged the participants to pay close attention to their instructors and make the most of this opportunity to learn. The Deputy Director Administration of CBSS, Dr. George Obasuyi, said that the age when women were confined to the kitchen has passed. He urged the students to take a keen interest in astronomy education, as it could lead them to great achievements.

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Mrs. Okanyi Chioma, the first female astronomer of the Centre, also welcomed the students and assured them that the workshop would be both interesting and educational. She encouraged the participants to actively engage and make the most of the workshop.

The event-packed workshop promoted astronomy/ space science development through technical sessions and lectures. The workshop lectures were on types of telescopes used for observational astronomy, types of optical telescopes, types of lenses, the electromagnetic spectrum, and career talk. The hands-on sessions were on the building of optical telescopes, solar system modelling, coupling of Galileoscopes, and stargazing. These sessions were handled by the following scientists Mr. Achu Njoku Nnaemeka, Ms. Ocheni Ojimma, Mrs. Chukwudi Obiageli, Mr. Okagu Peter, Mr. Onyinyechi Wlliams, Mr. Francis Obieti, and Mr. Egbuim Timothy C.

During the workshop, the students successfully modelled our solar system, coupled Galileoscopes, and constructed optical telescopes using the provided materials. The hands-on activities allowed the students to apply the astronomy, physics, and space science concepts they had learned during the workshop lectures. To commemorate the student’s participation and achievements, Dr. C. N Ofodum and Mrs. Okany Chioma F. presented certificates of participation to the schools. The event was concluded with group photographs. The certificates acknowledged the students’ dedication and successful completion of the workshop. The event was concluded with group photographs.

The technical committee responsible for overseeing the workshop comprised esteemed individuals from both the NASRDA- Centre for Basic Space Science (CBSS) and the International Astronomy Union Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU-OAD). From CBSS, the committee included Dr. Bonaventure Okere, the Director of CBSS, assisting him was Dr. C.N Ofodun, the CBSS Assistant Director. Additionally, Mrs. Chioma Okanyi, the first female astronomer of the Centre, and Mr. Egbuim Timothy. Representing the IAU-OAD on the committee were Dr. Kevin Govender, the Director of IAU-OAD, and Ramasamy Venugopal, who delivered his address to the participants through zoom.

The workshop was a significant step in the promotion of involvement of girls in astronomy and space science. This is within the framework of CBSS, IAU-OAD inclusive astronomy in Nigeria, which aims to promote inclusivity, equality, and diversity in Astronomy.

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Ifesinachi Ayogu
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