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Enhancing Science Partnerships for Innovation and Sustainable Development


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Fostering interchange between school pupils through the heavens

How could a school partnership be structured between a German and a South African school? The possibilities are manifold, both in terms of astronomy and culture: Photographing the sky at night together? Making astronomical observations which supplement one another – coordinated via Skype for example? Or organise an exchange visit? A school competition organised by Haus der Astronomie raises precisely these questions.

Applications for this competition are open to pupils aged 15 and older together with a teacher. The closing date for applications is September 15, 2012. The application (maximum of three pages, per e-mail to ) should take three aspects into particular consideration:

  1. What role can be played by astronomy in the exchange? This includes issues such as: Why do the constellations appear to be upside down when viewed in the southern hemisphere? Why is the centre of the Milky Way so much easier to see from the southern hemisphere?
  2. What should school pupils learn about South African school pupils so as to foster friendship and the exchange of findings? Information about day-to-day life, society and the history of the country – what else?
  3. Communication: How can the school pupils exchange data and findings despite the distance between them? What has to be taken into consideration in this respect? (Skype, e-mail, significance of time zones etc.)

In the case of the best three concepts, chosen above all with a view to originality and practicability, the partnership is to become reality: German and South African partners are to be brought together, with promotion of a direct visit and exchange. Alongside the school competition there is also an exchange visit among scientists. On all levels of the exchange it is intended to establish long-term cooperations between Germany and South Africa.

The prizes will be awarded in Haus der Astronomie on October 19, 2012. At the same time there will be a joint celebration with the South African partner teachers and pupils and with German and South African astronomers. In addition, a visit to South Africa is planned for March 2013.

Cecilia Scorza
Haus der Astronomie