AfricaSTI, Cape Town
Carolina Ödman-Govender, developer of a programme that educates young children about the universe has won a scientific award for the best educational resources available on the internet.
Ödman-Govender , project manager of the Universe Awareness (UNAWE), won the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education.
The award was introduced by Science Magazine as a means to show the most valuable educational resources that are available on the Internet and to bring them to a wider audience.
The UNAWE project used astronomy to cultivate a sense of direction, foster a global citizenship and stimulate interest in science early in a child’s development.
UNAWE targets children aged between 4 and 10 years old, particularly those from an underprivileged background.
“It is a very big sign of recognition of the work I have done for the past five years,” Ödman-Govender told AfricaSTI.
In 2010, Ödman-Govender moved from the Netherlands to South Africa where she put her expertise to work with the South African UNAWE programme which is run from the South African Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town (SAAO).
South Africa has been a frontrunner in integrating UNAWE activities in its outreach and education efforts.
Ödman-Govender said many other African countries have worked with South Africa to develop astronomy capacity and to use astronomy to stimulate their development.
Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania are among some that have developed their own UNAWE programmes, said Ödman-Govender who also works as director of academic development of the Africa Institute of Mathematical Sciences – Next Einstein Initiative.