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Lessons from Astrobus-Ethiopia 2017

Updated: Nov 23, 2019

“Believe in the students - make them curious to solve real problems” [Astrobus-Ethiopia Moto]

Image Credit: Carla Von Münchow

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?


On Format

  • 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.


On Hypothesis


Original hypothesis

  • 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?

On Needs

  • Enabling disabilities

  • More human power to handle sudden influx of people

  • Framework to follow up after the event

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