Introducing School Children in Nigeria to SPACE Technology As a Tool for Mitigation of National Catastrophes

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 2:55 PM
Omowumi Alabi, African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education, Ile Ife, Nigeria
The zonal workshops organized by the space education outreach unit of the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education utilized recent catastrophic events in Nigeria to attract pre-collegiate youths to space science and technology (SST). About 200 school children, aged between 10 and 18 years participated in the program which was coordinated at 2 different geopolitical zones in Nigeria in 2014. The 2-day event was packed with a lot of fun-filled, hands-on educational activities demonstrating the use of outer space to address prevailing socio-economic problems in the nation. The students were introduced to the Nigerian Earth Observation Satellites, and learned why these satellites cannot be used to track the school girls kidnapped by the terrorist group in the northern part of the country. They were also introduced to other types of satellites and participated in activities on the applications of TRMM satellite data to monitor flood events in Nigeria. The Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was introduced as a navigational tool to curb criminal activities in the country and participants used the hand-held GPS unit for geocaching. The program culminated in the launching of space clubs in all the participating schools and a teacher from each school received resource materials on DVD to nurture the space club. To assess the impact of the workshop on the knowledge level of the participants in space science, quiz competitions were administered and the average score of the students was above 70%. The enthusiasm displayed by the students, coupled with the brilliant performance in the evaluation tests, indicated that this method of informal education, that linked science to the alleviation of national disasters is viable, not only for stimulating the interest of Nigerian pre-collegiate youths in SST, but also to inspire the young learners and develop their interest in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).