The 2019 West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers (WAISSYA) resumed yesterday at the National Space Research and Development Agency(NASRDA) in Abuja, the federal capital of Nigeria. The programme hosted by the Center for Basic Space Science (CBSS) this year, is held every two years and will have in attendance over 60 participants including undergraduates and a few graduates. The programme will run from October 28 to November 1, 2019.
WAISSYA aims to empower West African students to pursue STEAM-related subjects and courses, and think scientifically about the world; exchange ideas on education between West Africa and North America, build a foundation for sustained astronomy partnership between West Africa, Canada, and the International community, and a critical mass of astronomers in West Africa.
The WAISSYA programme is informed by research in science education. It focuses on developing instructors’ teaching practices and on “inquiry”, a paradigm in which students ask and investigate their mini-research questions in small teams. It uses research-based surveys, and student reflections to measure student learning, and revise the curriculum for future summer schools based on the results. WAISSYA alumni are now attending graduate programmes across the globe, including in countries such as Canada, Portugal and Cameroon. They also serve as teachers, scientists and engineers at home.
WAISSYA’s first summer school held in Abuja, Nigeria in 2013, has been followed by events at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria in 2015, and the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute in Accra, Ghana, in 2017.
The West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers (WAISSYA).
WAISSYA is a programme that seeks to build a community of astronomers in West Africa as well as inspire and train the next generation of scientific leaders. The original idea for WAISSYA came about through conversations between Linda Strubbe (University of British Columbia, Canada), Bonaventure Okere (Centre for Basic Space Science, National Space Research and Development Agency, Nsukka, Nigeria), and Michael Reid (University of Toronto, Canada) during a trip to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly held in Beijing in 2012. West Africa was recognised to have the potential to develop an astronomy community. The realisation of this potential depends on its large number of talented students interested in science and Africa’s promise of an investment in the Square Kilometre Array (a cutting-edge new radio observatory built across two continents: Africa and Australia). So far the programme works with its West African colleagues and organisations interested in building up a mass of West African astronomers and establishing collaborations with universities and astronomy institutions outside the region.