To the moon and beyond!!
“The most important part of a child’s education is the practical experience they gain. It opens up many avenues for them to grow and learn”, shares Vidya Thathamangalam, the lead behind Project Vinveli. The workshop, conducted between 31 January and 1 February saw the students of Corporation Middle School, Thudiyalur, construct their own telescope and inaugurate it for the use of the students of this school and others too.
This group of 20 middle schoolers of grades 6 to 8 are not exactly new to astronomy. Their English teacher, Chitra sparked their interest in this field when she bought in Surender Ponnalagar of Open Space Foundation to the school in 2019. Through a solar filter, the children were able to analyze the sun and this activity was the beginning of something wonderful in their school life. From there, the students were able to explore their interest, even participating in the International Asteroid Search Campaign in Sept-Oct, 2022.
When the Open Space Foundation approached the school to construct a telescope in their premises, Chitra reached out to Vidya Thathamangalam of Rotary E-Club Metro Dynamix, looking for someone to sponsor the project. “She passionately explained how this would be extremely useful for the children and I thought I had to do everything to help them”, said Vidya. She added that it is important to invoke the curiosity in the minds of these young ones and also provide them with proper guidance to encourage their interest.
Chitra believes that this is a great step forward for more students to learn about the universe above us and understand it. “I could not believe how the students were able to understand such complex ideas. I think this is a great opportunity to instill a research mentality in them from a very young age”, she said. With more requests coming in from teachers of other schools, Chitra is hopeful that this practical form of learning causes more students to pick up astronomy and explore the skies.