by Roberto Molar Candanosa
On September 1, 2016, a solar eclipse will be visible in most of Africa. Girls from the newly built Akili Girls Preparatory School in Kisumu, Kenya, will be able to see that eclipse with their new OneSky telescope and Solar Glasses, provided thanks to funds raised through the BIG program by Astronomers Without Borders (AWB).
Liz Sanders, of AWB, went to Kenya as a member of Lifepoint Church’s Kenya Mission Team. The team helped build the school in early 2016, and Sanders used the opportunity to deliver the telescope, solar glasses, and other educational materials.
In Kenya, Sanders showed the girls how to use the telescope with solar films. She said these girls had very little knowledge about astronomy. “They were looking at the telescope like, ‘What in the world is this thing?’” Sanders said. That is why she thinks the BIG program is important. “You don’t know what even the slightest introduction to science may leave these girls with,” she said.
The Akili Girls Preparatory School enables underprivileged girls from the Obunga Slum of Kisumu, Kenya with quality education via a day and boarding school. “I absolutely love everything they are doing for these girls,” Sanders said. “Being able to get astronomy equipment and educational materials for them was absolutely fantastic.”
AWB is coordinating efforts to help the school get familiar with their new telescope, which now lives in the boarding school with the girls. “The girls will be there, and teachers can take them down to the field in the evenings and show them the skies, the planets, stars, and galaxies,” Sanders said. Unfortunately, the school began operating after Sanders left Kenya, so she could not to show the girls how to use the telescope at night.
The Kenya BIG project was the very first of several others in the BIG program. “There’s a bunch of BIG projects for which AWB is doing a fantastic job in raising funds to get equipment to schools, clubs, and groups across the world,” Sanders said. “This Kenya project started it all off, and it’s continuing to grow.”
Learn more about the BIG program:
Learn more about the Akili Girls Preparatory School: