Students from the Carnarvon School of the Air recently participated in a Universe Awareness (UNAWE) workshop with ICRAR astronomer Dr Megan Argo.
UNAWE is an international program that uses the wonder of the Universe to inspire young disadvantaged children around the world. The workshop’s aim is to spark children’s curiosity in science and is highly interactive.
As part of the workshop, Dr Argo challenged the Carnarvon School of the Air students to build model radio telescopes. They were then invited to share their creations with children across the globe in a special video link up.
The students from remote areas surrounding Carnarvon in Western Australia built their model telescopes from innovative materials they found around their properties.
“One student attached a wok to a can of food and spray painted the lot to create their model,” says Dr Argo. “Some even glued red soil from the Murchison to the bases of their models. They were brilliant!”
Many of the students that participated live in the Murchison region, the area where the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder is under construction, and where the SKA itself might call home.
The students’ work came to fruition on the 15th of May, when their models were shown off and compared with students from the Netherlands and South Africa during an international video link up.
The children also spoke with their international counterparts about local animals, weather and their backyards.
“The other students were amazed to hear about how the Aussie kids lived,” says Dr Argo. “They couldn’t believe that one of the students had a backyard that was a million acres in size.”
The Carnarvon School of the Air students don’t often get to learn together in person, as most of their lessons are conducted remotely over the internet. The UNAWE workshop and video link up were great opportunities for the students to learn more about astronomy, and connect with other students around the world.
“The students had so many questions, they were so excited to know more about the Universe,” Dr Argo adds. “It was great to be able to foster their interest in astronomy.”
The workshop and link up was conducted as part of the lead up to the International SKA Forum 2010, to be held from June 9th in the Netherlands. The link up and the students’ work will be presented as part of the conference.