The Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) will train teachers from Asia-Pacific countries for the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) in a bid to create a large pool of experts. These teachers are expected to train students from their respective countries for the IOAA, which comprises tests in astrophysical theory, astronomical data analysis and night sky observation.
The centre is the coordinator for science and astronomy Olympiads in India. As many as 55 students from across the country are now undergoing training here, of which the final five-member team for IOAA 2012 will be selected next month. The orientation-cum-selection camp at HBCSE includes several theoretical and experimental tests. Further, the selected five will undergo a rigorous training programme in theory, data analysis and observational astronomy.
“There is a lot of interest among students from countries in the Asia-Pacific region regarding the IOAA. However, there is a huge dearth of trained professionals in these countries. Subsequently, the students don’t end up doing very well. Currently, the HBCSE is in the process of training teachers from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. This will ensure that they can reach out to more talented students,” said Aniket Sule, academic coordinator of the astronomy and astrophysics Olympiad from HBCSE.
The executive committee of the IOAA had selected Sule to coordinate the initiative. India has been performing consistently well at the IOAA and has stood first in the medal tally for the past two years.
“We have developed expertise in teaching astronomy and astrophysics to students who represent our country in the international competition. The reason why India has been doing well at IOAA is because the students selected are passionate about the subject and are taught everything from scratch. Training teachers from other countries so that they can help their students, who are equally passionate about the subject, is a good initiative as astronomy is a great way of attracting the youth to science,” said Mayank Vahia, professor at department of astronomy and astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).
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