By Arndt Krödel
Translated : Natalie Fischer
They want to go to Mars,Venus and Saturn and of course, they would like to see black holes: the wishes of the 60 children from Heidelberg kindergartens and elementary schools are met by Dr. Cecilia Scorza with an express journey through our solar system in the digital planetarium of the House of Astronomy – only not to the black holes she has to give in for obvious reasons. But there is something quite different, which you do not have every day: a look at the stars of the South African sky. The young visitors who know astronomy, did not recognize many things in the dome above them: The Southern Cross and a dwarf galaxy that is not visible at all in the northern hemisphere, and they learn that in the southern sky known constellations are upside down.
The girls and boys ages five to nine years, were guests of the launch event for the nationwide project "The South African sky over Germany", to which 25 participants from South Africa - especially in the field of science and education -met for one week in the House of Astronomy. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It aims to support the exchange between South African and German education experts and researchers in the field of astronomy and strengthen long-term cooperation between the two countries. In addition, there is a close relationship to "Universe Awareness" (UNAWE), a 2006 launched astronomical education program that will inspire children around the world for astronomy and unite astronomers, teachers and educators from 44 countries in a network.
Since 2011, the EU is providing funding available for projects in European countries. "Let the children feel as inhabitants of the same unique planet and let them develop solidarity towards other cultures," explains astronomer Scorza, the coordinator of the "EUNAWE" project in Germany. The study of astronomy put forth not only a connection to environmental education, it also extends the worldview of the children by inviting them to provide philosophical and religious issues - for example: Are we alone in the universe?
To tune in the children of the Heidelberg region on the theme "The South African Sky", Scorza had come up with something special together with project manager Natalie Fischer and the South African partners Sivuyile Manxoyi and Troshini Naidoo: The participants from the south of the African continent welcomed the little visitors with spirited traditional rhythmic chants and dances from their homeland. Temba Matemola, the "best storyteller in South Africa," brought them near myths associated with the South African sky, accompanied by mysterious sounds.