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Solar Eclipse Workshop at HartRAO 2002/07/08

To prepare for the total solar eclipse that will trace a path over southern africa on 4 December 2002, a workshop was held at HartRAO about the eclipse for partner science education organisations. This workshop was partly funded by a grant of R25000 from the Foundation for Education, Science and Technology (FEST) on behalf of the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST), now the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The aim of the workshop was not only to supply information about the eclipse, but to provide our partners in the eclipse project with materials they could use to educate people in their area of the country. This entailed a considerable amount of work by the HartRAO Science Awareness team and support staff, particularly in the mechanical workshop.

A photographic report gives an idea of the preparation for the eclipse workshop, and some of what took place during the event.

The workshop was held from 9 - 11 July 2002. External participants were:

HartRAO staff Conrad Mahlase, Glenda Coetzer, Japie Greef and Meisie Fourie also participated.

The University of the North Science Centre are also partners in the project but were unable to participate in the workshop. However they also received the materials described below.

The workshop was run by Kim de Boer, Pulane Moroeng, Logan Moodley and Dr. Mike Gaylard of HartRAO.

The first day of the workshop comprised:

Day Two focused on the eclipse: The third day was devoted to:

Materials received by each centre included:

The level of knowledge was evaluated by two short questionnaires given to participants at the start and at the end of the workshop. These covered general astronomical concepts (maximum mark = 118), and the eclipse (maximum mark = 99):

		Astronomy                  Eclipse
Name    Before  After  Change      Before  After   Change
A         13     46      +33          25     85      +60
B         13     72      +59          23     84      +61
C         17     45      +28          27     78      +51
D         26     56      +30          73     83      +10
E         34     46      +12          25     67      +42
F         59     80      +21          78     81       +3
G         65    105      +40          71     93      +22
H         68     71       +3          81     85       +4
I         78    104      +26          89     97       +8
J         85    108      +23          87     87        0
Some of the participants had essentially no prior exposure to astronomy, which is shown by the "before" scores of 10, 13 and 17. They all showed substantial improvements in understanding in their "after" results.

All participants showed a very satisfactory understanding of eclipses after the workshop. Those with almost no prior knowledge, with scores of 7, 14 and 25, showed particularly dramatic improvements.

The draft implementation plan shows the direction each centre will follow.