Astronomy Students in Ukraine and the Need for Telescopes
While Astronomy for Equity is raising funds for telescopes for astronomy students in Ukraine (fundrazr.com/UkraineTelescopes), Astronomy for Equity founder Mike Simmons spoke with Taisiia Karasova, the founder of AstroSandbox, a national organization that promotes and teaches astronomy in schools across Ukraine. Taisiia spoke about the importance of practical astronomy for Ukraine’s students and the need for telescopes.
Mike: Why is astronomy important for students in Ukraine?
Taisiia: Astronomy is important for the youth of Ukraine because it is a worldview science, it gives knowledge about the universe and our place in it, helps to systematize the knowledge obtained in the lessons of mathematics, physics, and geography, that is, it helps the youth to get a holistic education. In addition, in the current difficult times, it is a consolation for many, a hobby that helps to keep oneself in a good psychological state, to distract oneself from the horrors of war, to find the beautiful and interesting in life, to maintain constant contacts with colleagues in this hobby.
Mike: Why are telescopes needed? What will students get from their use?
Taisiia: Historically, the educational system in Ukraine is geared towards primarily theoretical work. This creates a self-fueling cycle where STEM academia is focused on theory and neglects experimental / observational part of science, which influences the curriculum to lack hands-on work.
The access to telescopes will provide Ukrainian students with an opportunity to explore science beyond pen and paper.
Mike: Will others outside of the astronomy classes benefit as well?
Taisiia: AstroSandbox is actively involved in providing space science resources for high school students. However, resources for elementary and secondary schools are still scarce. This leads to the fact that younger students often do not pay attention to astronomy and thus we lose potential talented staff. The presence of telescopes in the school will allow organizing open observation sessions for all students (and not just those who are members of the astronomy club) and thus attract them to this wonderful science.
Mike: Why did you create AstroSandbox? What has come from it?
Taisiia: Studying at school, I was disappointed by the lack of resources available to gain knowledge in this field. There are various events of diverse formats available to students interested in Physics, Mathematics, and Computer Science. However, Astronomy remained in the shadows. As a result, there was no formed community of astronomy enthusiasts and students relied just on themselves in its studies. Therefore, after graduation, together with a team of like-minded students and teachers, I created a place which unites people fascinated by space sciences and study resources. In AstroSandbox we hold webinars on diverse advanced astronomy topics for school students (have recorded 61 so far) and publish homework and the solutions. We also organize the only Ukrainian nationwide team tournament on solving astronomical problems.
Read more about the fundraising campaign for telescopes for astronomy students in Ukraine at fundrazr.com/UkraineTelescopes.