Exploration | IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach - Pakistan
All Sessions by Yumna Majeed
Day 3 - Fri 12th May
Yumna Majeed - Cosmos to Classroom: Space Education Practice in Pakistan
15:45 - 16:00
In Pakistan's Astronomy and Space Sciences field, a lack of awareness was observed in educational institutions and among the public, from outdated curricula in schools that made science uninteresting for students to the militarization of space agency that led to no jobs in the country’s space sector. Furthermore, there were no public observatories, planetariums or science museums for students or the public to visit, nor role models or space-career counselling centres where students could progress their professional space careers.
In 2016, a space education and awareness campaign was initiated by Yumna Majeed, then 18y/o medical student and aspiring astronaut. Two years later, Exploration was created as a volunteer-run organisation with Ms Yumna as a student ambassador and national coordinator for US and Europe-based space organisations. The mission was to raise awareness about Astronomy among Pakistan's public and promote Astronomy and Space Sciences as a subject and career among students. The target audience was narrowed down to primary and secondary schools. Since Astronomy is an observational science, using art mediums to engage students in themed activities proved to be a good technique. Teaching methods included presentation-based STEM lectures, day and night sky observation sessions via telescope, hands-on activities, and space-art and storytelling sessions. To build a sustainable model for the organisation and keep the outreach inclusive and diverse, private schools were charged to cover the material cost, subsequent funding enabling the same sessions to be conducted free of cost at low-income schools, trusts and orphanages.
Currently, there’s high demand for Space Science workshops, and Exploration reached over 85 schools and more than 9000 children. Schools started to celebrate World Space Week, universities initiated Space Clubs and authorities and the national space agency started to address space as part of the course curriculum.