Strategy For Implementing The UN “Zero-Gravity Instrument Project” To Promote Space Science Among School Children In Nigeria 

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Omowumi Alabi1, Ganiyu Agbaje1 and Joseph Akinyede2, (1)African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education, Ile Ife, Nigeria, (2)Federal University of Technology Akure, Space Research and Applications, Akure, Nigeria
The United Nations “Zero Gravity Instrument Project” (ZGIP) is one of the activities coordinated under the Space Education Outreach Program (SEOP) of the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in English (ARCSSTE-E) to popularize space science among pre-collegiate youths in Nigeria. The vision of ZGIP is to promote space education and research in microgravity. This paper will deliberate on the strategy used to implement the ZGIP to introduce school children to authentic scientific data and inquiry. The paper highlights how the students learned to collect scientific data in a laboratory environment, analyzed the data with specialized software, obtained results, interpreted and presented the results of their study in a standard format to the scientific community. About 100 school children, aged between 7 and 21 years, from ten public and private schools located in Osun State, Nigeria participated in the pilot phase of the ZGIP which commenced with a 1-day workshop in March 2014. During the inauguration workshop, the participants were introduced to the environment of outer space, with special emphasis on the concept of microgravity. They were also taught the basic principle of operation of the Clinostat, a Zero-Gravity Instrument donated to ARCSSTE-E by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UN-OOSA), Vienna, under the Human Space Technology Initiative (UN-HSTI). At the end of the workshop, each school designed a project, and had a period of 1 week, on a planned time-table, to work in the laboratory of ARCSSTE-E where they utilized the clinostat to examine the germination of indigenous plant seeds in simulated microgravity conditions. The paper also documents the post-laboratory investigation activities, which included presentation of the results in a poster competition and an evaluation of the project. The enthusiasm displayed by the students, coupled with the favorable responses recorded during an oral interview conducted to assess the impact of the project on the participants indicated that this method of informal education and ‘Catch them Young’ approach can be used to cultivate scientific research skills among school children and motivate them to develop interest in careers in space science and technology.