The UNAM/Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT) programme began late last month with school excursions in Windhoek when the team took the mobile planetarium to the Pioneers Park Primary School for their first excursion of the year.

The UNAM/AMT Mobile Planetarium is an inflatable, interactive facility designed to bring the wonders of the cosmos directly to learners in Namibia.

The planetarium will be visiting different schools in the country with the purpose of providing hands-on astronomical education and inspiring young minds in the field of astrophysics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

A total of 188 learners and teachers from the Pioneers Park Primary School attended the planetarium event.

The planetarium offers a range of programmes tailored to different learners on different educational levels.

Senior AMT team member Emmy Iiyambo gave plaudits to the success of the pilot tour at the Pioneers Park Primary School.

“The event is aimed at educating learners about astronomy and science, fostering inspiration and motivation among them,” says Iiyambo. “The shows unfolded seamlessly, with learners displaying remarkable enthusiasm even before entering the planetarium.

“Their existing knowledge in astronomy was both surprising and motivational for us in the team. The event’s success was evident as the excited learners left with numerous questions, displaying a hunger for further learning. As this was only the first show of the year, this positive outcome serves as a promising start, energising us for many more successful events ahead.”

When asked to speak to the team on their experience, one of the Grade 5 learners said: “It was exciting watching the sky move. I actually read about all this stuff, so I knew what they were talking about. I already knew how a black hole is made, and I was excited to see it close and zoomed in,” he said.

Nedbank Namibia Communications and Public Relations Manager, Selma Kaulinge said that witnessing the positive impact the mobile planetarium had on its first excursion means that we are on the right track when it comes to equipping the next generation of astronomers in Namibia.

“Seeing the awe and wonder on the faces of the learners during the planetarium school visit reaffirms the power of immersive experiences in education, especially when exposure begins at an earlier stage,” Kaulinge said.

“Our purpose of being money experts who do good, is a guiding factor for initiatives we support, and in this case, we are aware of how important these excursions are to the learners, especially in providing access to educational opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”

The mobile planetarium is scheduled to make its next stop at the Namibia University of Science and Technology on Friday, 16 February.

In the photo: Learners from Pioneers Park Primary School posing for a photo with the mobile planetarium.