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Initial report from Chuck Ruehle and Telescopes to Tanzania project: November 9, 2011

The 2011 Telescopes to Tanzania trip was from October 4 to October 27th.

Upon arrival on the 5th of October, Tareto Nassari and Pastor Fredrick Pallangyo greeted me at the airport and took me to the Guest House in Usa River.  I spent the night there and collected up the resources that Mama was keeping for me.

Last June, the Our Saviors, Oconomowoc and Fox point delegations carried about 125 pounds of equipment in for me.  The Vernon delegation (arriving on October 6th) carried about 40 pounds of material, and I brought in about 110 pounds in my luggage.  Amazingly, nothing was lost or broken, so by Friday the 7th, all my resources for teaching were in Tanzania.

On Thursday the 6th I visited with the Bishop and his staff at the Diocese office. I shared some of the hunger relief funds raised by Redeemer and Pan de Cielo in Racine.  In the afternoon I moved all the gear to Kikatiti to stay with Tareto and his family.

The model that emerged for the secondary schools included introducing the resources and teaching materials to the teachers on the first day and part of the second morning.  Then by mid-morning the second day each of the teachers worked with a small group of students (10-15 per group) presenting some of the teaching materials I had introduced.  I went from group to group, answering questions and assisting the teachers.  Then by the afternoon I spent several hours with the teachers debriefing our experience from the time with students, answering questions, reviewing materials, and helping the teachers to consider how to use the resources with students on a regular basis.  (The ideas included an astronomy focus for a day once every 4 to 6 weeks and forming Space Clubs on campus).

Whenever the sky was clear we engaged the students in solar observing during the day, and star/planet observing at night. (Night viewing was clouded out for the first 9 nights.).  The general outline of topics covered at the 5 secondary schools is included at the end of this report.

I taught at Kikatiti Secondary on Friday and Saturday the 7th and 8th, working with the math, physics, chemistry, and geography teachers, plus the librarian.

On Sunday the 9th I attended the Diocese Choir Festival at Mukungani parish with Pastor Fredrick and his family.  I also moved to Kitefu village to live with Pastor Fredrick.

I taught at Makamira Secondary on Monday and Tuesday the 10th and 11th, working with 8 teachers in the science, math agriculture, and geography departments.  I also visited with Pastors Eliesha Mbise and Anate Pallangyo who are attending Makamira University.

I taught at Nkoaranga Secondary on Wednesday and Thursday the 12th and 13th, working with 4 teachers in the math, science, and geography departments. On the 13th I also visited Mwangaza Education and Resource Center.  I talked with John Kanshe, a program director, about the work at Mwangaza and how the Telescopes to Tanzania work might fit into the hands-on education model in the sciences.

On the morning of the 13th we stopped at Kitefu Primary School on our way to Nkoranga.  The students gave me pictures they had drawn for students at Mitchell elementary school in Racine.  The Mitchell students had sent drawings to Kitefu last summer.  We hope to build a partner relationship between the two schools.

Friday, October 14th was a national holiday, recognizing Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania.  We spent the day planting and working in Kitefu.  I also began to prepare materials and methods for working with the primary schools.

Saturday, October 15th was also a rest day for me. I spent several hours enjoying the great art collection at the Cultural Heritage Center in Arusha.

On Sunday the 16th I worshipped with Pastor Fredrick and his family at Kiwawa.  In the afternoon I packed up all my gear and rode with Tareto and his family to the Bishop's home for a late tea.  I then continued my journey to Ngarenanyuki Secondary with James and Lillian Soumi.  While at the school I was the house guest of James and Lillian.  The skies cleared on Mt Meru and allowed for evening viewing for the remainder of my time in Tanzania

I taught at Ngarenanyuki on Monday and Tuesday the 17th and 18th, working with 16 school staff and teachers, including Peniel Sarakikya and Bonifance Bactazari, two former teachers who came to spend time with me to follow-up on the astronomy work we did when I visited the school last year.

On Wednesday the 19th I traveled with James and Lillian to Songoro via Arusha National Park.  We took several hours for a game drive - a delightful and relaxing time.  After we left the park we stopped at Ailanga Jr. Seminary and Secondary School.  In conversation with the headmistress she shared that the school had a telescope that was not functioning properly.  After a quick inspection I offered to help her staff learn about the scope if they brought it to Songoro on Friday afternoon before I left for Mulala.

I was greeted at Songoro by staff and students and housed in the teachers' quarters on campus. Aloice Mbuya hosted me during my stay.

On Thursday and Friday the 20th and 21st I taught at Songoro, working with 14 teachers and staff.  Songoro is a government supported secondary school started in 2004 - still very much under development.  It does not have boarding facilities - so all 931 students walk each day from the surrounding area.

On Friday afternoon two teachers from Ailanga arrived with a Meade EXT 60 in need of fresh batteries and program setup.  I helped them learn how to use the scope with the power settings and on manual. (Before leaving Tanzania the following week I also sent the school some extra eye-pieces and teaching materials not used during my stay.)

Pastor Nnko picked me up at Songoro and drove me to Mulala.  While working in Mulala, Kalinga, and Kyuta  I stayed in the home of Pastor Elias and Elli Nasari. A student beginning her Social Work studies, Neema Sarakiky, hosted me while in their home.  Several members of the Mulala partnership committee stopped by to greet me on Friday evening.

On Saturday the 22nd I met with 11 members of the partnership committee at Mulala Church for lunch.  After lunch I talked about my Telescope to Tanzania work, taught them about constellations, solar activity, and the operation of the Galileoscope I gave to the parish last year. As community leaders they wanted to know all about the material I was teaching in the schools. Late in the afternoon I traveled to Kyuta to see the Kindergarten building the Adoration community helped to build - it is beautiful and brought tears when I compared it to my experience of June 2010.

On Sunday the 23rd I preached at Kalinga Church.  With the help of Neema Sarakiky during my sermon preparation I was able to preach part of my sermon in Swahili with Pastor Nnko translating the other sections.  I performed 5 infant baptisms and shared in distributing communion.  Following the service the Partnership Committee hosted me for lunch and gave me farewell gifts.  In the evening I prepared my outline material for teaching in the primary schools.

On Monday the 24th I visited with the kindergarten students in Kyuta for an hour and then traveled back to Mulala Primary School.

I worked with the 10 member staff for about 3 hours.  Topics covered for the primary schools included: telescope assembly and usage, optics, moon phases, constellations, geography, and the solar system.  We created a standard unit of measure model and teachers learned how to use the solarscope.  After lunch we worked with students on telescope observing, solar observing, and the orbits of the planets.  I was able to spend about 6 hours at each of the two primary schools.

On Monday evening we had a "Star Party" in Mulala.  About 10 adults, including some primary teachers attended.  It was great fun finding deep sky objects in the birika (tea pot) of Sagittarius. In the last 10 days I worked with three of the groups to collect World Wide Star Count (Dark Sky) data that I recorded on the internet upon my return to the US.

On Tuesday the 25th Pastor Nnko drove me to Kalinga Primary School.  I worked with the staff of 12 teachers, following the outline used on Monday.

Folks from Kikatiti picked me up at Kalinga and drove me to Usa River where I had tea with Anael Pallangyo, a program manager for World Vision.  He is currently heading an Economic Development program designed to set up micro-businesses in the villages selling "Tough Stuff" solar gear.  About a dozen pilot sites will begin in March of 2012.

In the evening I stayed at Taretos' home and began packing.

On Wednesday the 26th I packed in the morning, went to Pastor Fredrick's home for a farewell lunch with the headmasters and other friends.  I received my fourth goat in honor of my visit.  Following lunch about a dozen folks took me to the airport to say goodbye.  My flight was on time, leaving at 8:50pm.  I changed planes in Amsterdam and arrived in Chicago at 2:15pm on Thursday, the 27th.

Initial Summary Reflections:

It was exciting to work in the schools and learn about the Tanzanian Educational System.  In addition to the resources and teaching tools I left behind I also tried to introduce some hands-on, interactive pedagogical methods to the teachers.

In total, I worked with about 80 teachers, staff, and community members, and more than 500 students.  The total number of teachers and staff at the seven schools is more than 150, with more than 3,500 students.  At each of the schools I was able to give monetary gifts for hunger relief and school needs.

Upon reflection I realize that this was one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my life.  I have done more challenging things physically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically - but not all at the same time like this month in Tanzania.  I hope I was a good colleague to the folks I worked with.  For all of this I give thanks.

Chuck Ruehle

Outline of Secondary School Topics:

Telescopes:

  • Set-up, operation and components of the 50mm and 70mm scopes.


Geography
:

  • Location on maps, latitude, longitude, and impact on viewing


Observing
:

  • Night Sky - Constellations, sky maps, sky wheel, SkyX software
  • Moon - phases, tides, eclipse
  • Sun - solar dynamics, sun spots, solar filters, safety first practices


Optics
:

  • Optics, focal length, lenses


Light
:

  • Visible light spectrum, prisms, spectra scopes, spectra analysis


Electro-magnetic spectrum
:

  • Invisible Universe exercises, Wave amplitude, length, etc


Solar system
:

  • Standard Unit of measure exercise (toilet paper universe)
  • Distance, size, and composition of the planets


Dark Sky activities
:

  • Light Pollution
  • Worldwide Star Count

 

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