‘Field trip to the stars’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 September) – The public will have a chance to go on a “field trip to the stars” with the opening today of a
traveling planetarium, an inflated dome that can accommodate 80 people and simulates the position of the stars and the planets, for a
week-long show in this city.

“We bring the universe to you because our students deserve to see the universe up close,” said Mila Francisco, consultant to the Mindanao
Science and Technology Centrum Foundation Inc.

Activities will include film showing on pressing environment issues such as global warming and climate change and a talk with real-life
astronomers from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pag-asa).

If weather permits, stargazing will take place in the early hours of the evenings as the mobile planetarium makes its first stop at the University of the Immaculate Conception today, where it will stay in the next two days.

Francisco said the planetarium will be moved to the Philippine Science High School in Mintal, the International Christian School and another
school in Davao City until the end of the month before it will go on tour to several Tagum City schools next month.

She said the mobile planetarium is a visual tool designed to stimulate students’ interest in the universe.

She noted that one of the problems confronting the teaching of science and mathematics is the lack of visual tool to perk up the interest of
children and to facilitate learning.

“One of the difficulties of teachers in science and mathematics is the lack of visuals to fuel the interest of students in the subject. How
will you explain the concept of rotation and revolution of planets and the sun in relation to each other?” she asked.

“They differ in speed and take place simultaneously. With such a visual as the mobile planetarium, teachers will have an easier time.”

Amid reports on declining student performance in science and mathematics and other issues hounding the teaching of these subjects
in the country, the experience may be the first step to stimulate learning, she added.

She, however, clarified that the situation of science learning in the country is not really “that bad,” as some exceptional students are
actually able to compete in Math and Science internationally.

“Teachers should organize activities to stimulate children’s interest in Math and Science and to improve literacy,” she said.

Madel Morado, MSCTF president, said lack of government support for science and technology research has prompted Filipino scientists to
migrate and seek greener pastures abroad.

“We cannot compete with countries which have a lot of resources and bigger budget for science and technology,” said Morado. (Germelina