“Believe in the students - make them curious to solve real problems” [Astrobus-Ethiopia Moto]
The Oct 2017 Astrobus-Ethiopia project went very well despite the many challenges. The following summarises what has been learnt at the end of the project. These lessons were drawn from the discussion the traveling team had after completing all trips. The discussion centered on the following topics:
Evaluation using pre-defined targets on project-format, project-appearance, and professional field representations.
Was the activities carried out and the outcomes achieved match our vision and mission?
In what form and shape Astrobus should continue in the future?
How are the telescopes obtained through crowdfunding be distributed?
Who is going to take care of the social media and web presence? Who will be responsible to answer emails and facebook messages?
Opposing views: student interaction lacked solid framework vs. solid framework may not necessary
We need to look at our evaluation metrics - although sampling didn’t was done without making sure randomness, the majority of those interviewed and asked to fill a form indicated a positive remark.
Our original plan was to have different rooms for talks, free-interactions, and activities. The format implemented was very different from the original and it lacked the most important elements.
The failure in the consistency between the planned and implemented format was because we were not able to control the organisation and logistics
Had we controlled the logistics, we would have done pre-arrangement with regional education buros and consult local people.
a lot of free interaction would increase the “aha” moment
The following questions arose in formulating a viable hypothesis
Do our audience have active problems they want to address systematically?
Do our audience have enough understanding of our topics to get curious?
How are we able to ask relevant questions if we don’t provide teaching materials?
On Future direction
Minimal set and standard for the next Astrobus event
Realistic design and reach number
Add real hands on activities at least one activity that all participants could do
Enforce rotation & orientation irrespective of shortage of astrobus team size
Make it a game to incentivise moving around and attend different activities
Get boxes with labels. Packing should be done with great discipline. Priority boxes should be identified. Good example was Universe in the box
Make sure the event space and location is clearly known before driving there - the main issue we encountered. Accommodation to changes should be only if it is very important - but not for convenience
Prepare with flexible plan that can address different age groups and knowledge labels
The opening sessions should be dedicated to role-model introduction & credit giving. Make it short - definitely not more than 30min
If possible, get necessary letters from partners, funders, & regional offices
Have a good strategy to package sensitive equipment.
Give introduction at the beginning of the trave about telescope handling
Find at least 2 volunteers per activity to help in many areas, including keeping an eye on equipment
Must consider communication facilities for the disabled
Prepare certificate for local organisers, travel team members and outstanding students
State role in the certificate
Prepare recommendation letter for students
Prepare thank you card for sponsors - including Universities
Acknowledge who help in translation and other relevant work
Consider hosting a contest among our facebook followers > Picture taking contest, > Essay contest, > Assign editors to manage social media platforms
On Target groups
Where are our target groups?
What are they doing?
What is their interest?
What do they know?
What facilities do they have at their disposal in their local area?
More human power to handle sudden influx of people
Framework to follow up after the event