West African Summer School

In 2013 and 2015, undergraduate students from Nigeria and surrounding countries experienced unique training opportunities at the West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers in Abuja, Nigeria.

The school was organized by the National Space Research and Development Agency’s Center for Basic Space Science, in conjunction with partners that included the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA).

The school provided science and engineering students in West Africa with basic astronomical instruction which they did not have access to. It was designed to enhance science instruction at the undergraduate level; it also encourages and supports students in continuing to study astronomy at the graduate level. In addition, a goal of the school was to better equip secondary and primary school science teachers in West Africa to teach astronomy.

Team of instructors that included faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students from the University of Toronto, the University of Nigeria and other institutions taught students through lectures, group discussions, solar observing sessions and hands-on activities.

Instructors led participants through inquiry-based activities in which students were taught to approach a problem like scientists, by asking questions, and exploring those questions and possible answers with peers.

Proof of the success of the school in 2013 came only weeks afterwards as students shared their knowledge with members of their communities during the November 3 eclipse of the Sun that was total in much of Nigeria.

Additional partners for the summer school included the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) and the Astronomical Society of Nigeria.

Read more:

U of T instructor’s blog, Share the Universe.

An Inquiry-based Summer School for Astronomy in West Africa, Astronomy Education & Development, IAU Newsletter, Oct. 2014

U of T Astronomy Summer School for West Africa instructors: (l. to r.) graduate students Kelly Lepo, Jielai Zhang, Heidi White; CITA postdoctoral fellow Linda Strubbe.

Students enjoying a night of observing.

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