Astronomy education group eyes Mindanao observatory

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/23 October) Astronomy is an important come on to boost interest in science and technology education, Mindanao should have its own astronomical observatory, Rodion Herrera, project director of Voyager Adventures said.

Herrera told Bukidnon Sunday existing astronomical observatories, like the Manila Observatory are inaccessible to students and instructors from Mindanao.

He said the group is aspiring to build a permanent astronomical observatory in Mindanao either in Davao or in Zamboanga City to help raise the quality of science and technology education in the island region.

He clarified that the construction of the observatory requires big investments and might take a long time to be realized.

In the meantime that the permanent observatory in Mindanao is still a dream, Herrera cited that his group has continued its school visits around Mindanao to “bring the universe closer.”

Voyager Adventures, a Davao-based private group promoting the study of astronomy, ended a nine-day tour in Bukidnon Tuesday.

The group had visited schools in Bukidnon from October 14 to October 22 for a follow up tour of their August 2013 run. On October 14, the 12-member Voyager team went to Lantapan for an exhibit with elementary and high schools students and teachers.

They proceeded to Valencia City Central School on October 16 and to the Valencia City National High School on October 18.

Finally, the group is holding its final show in Bukidnon in this run in Malaybalay City on October 21 to 22 at the Bukidnon National High School, Bukidnon’s biggest high school.

The group first toured Bukidnon in August 2013 with a total of two weeks of school visits in the towns of Quezon, Maramag, Pangantucan, and Manolo Fortich.

As of this month, the group has toured to more than 200 schools around Mindanao, except in the cities of Surigao, Cotabato, Pagadian, Gingoog, and Cagayan de Oro, said Rodion Herrera, program director and head lecturer of the group.

He said they are a third-party contributor to the development of science and technology education in Mindanao.

The group uses educational events program with state of the art Voyager Planetarium, mobile digital educational podium, as a visual and entertaining tool in teaching astronomy and other sciences.

The group also does telescope set up and camping, film viewing, games, quizzes, seminars, and photo exhibits on astronomy. The group charges an affordable rate for their shows to cover for expenses in equipment, personnel, and other costs.

The group is an educational events program using state of the art Voyager Planetarium as a visual and entertaining tool in teaching astronomy and other sciences.

The group also does telescope set up and camping, film viewing, games, quizzes, lectures, seminars, and photo exhibits on astronomy.

Another activity in Voyager Adventure is solar viewing using a Coronado Personal Solar Telescope (PST). They also provide stargazing and planetary observation using three telescopes all of which come with assorted eyepieces that would guarantee excellent and exciting viewing opportunities for kids and the general public.

The group’s equipment also includes a telescope-specific CCD camera for astrophotography demonstrations and other activities to be participated and interacted by the students and teachers.

The group was founded in 2011 by now Brunei-based educator turned entrepreneur Anyati Orcullo Abdullah, one of two proprietors. Abdullah hails from Zamboanga del Norte. After initiating the project with Rizal Technological University’s (RTU) Bamm Gabriana, the group’s first exhibit was held in Polomolok, South Cotabato, Herrera said.

Herrera said the group eyed to give students a “deeper understanding and appreciation of astronomy and space exploration.”

Voyager wanted to motivate and inspire citizens and students through the latest innovations in astronomy programs and software developed by a group of Filipino professional and amateur astronomers.

The students experience in educational entertainment, he added, will help maximize their learning potential.

Herrera said astronomy is also a good come on for students to have interest in other sciences.

Before, teachers and students need to go on field trips to planetariums to be able to experience astronomy education.

The Voyager’s concept, he added, is to be the ones to go to schools and bring opportunity for learning to their areas.

He said they hoped that with more interest in science and technology subjects, more students would take courses in the field.

“We hope this could lead to more students becoming science and technology professionals, and eventually help bring our country to development,” he added.

After the Bukidnon tour, Herrera said, they will showcase the Planetarium and their booth as tool for teaching during the convention of the Samahang Pisika ng Visayas Mindanao at the Ateneo de Davao University on October 23 to 25. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)