HTE Visits University of Puerto Rico

During the month of April 2013, the exhibit “Here, There and Everywhere” was displayed at the main library: “José M. Lázaro”, at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dr. Carmen A. Pantoja from the Department of Physics and Dr. Mayra Lebrón from the Department of Physical Sciences organized the events. The exhibit was promoted in the newspaper and on the radio. Ernesto Lucca, a student from the School of Communication (UPR) prepared an advertisement to promote the event on “Radio Universidad” (the UPR radio station) and by social media (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctB_gsvjR10 ). This promo has his voice, and the background piano music is by Ernesto also.

Dr. Carmen Pantoja took the opportunity to incorporate the exhibit into the course “Descriptive Astronomy”. This is a course of general astronomy concepts open to all the student population at the UPR. During the initial months of the semester the students learned the fundamentals of physics and astronomy themes of the exhibit while learning the regular class material. The students also learned the basic principles of science outreach, using the book “Handbook for Science Educators” published by the French “Programme Promotion de la culture scientifique et technique” and the HTE Activity guide. The students were organized into small groups. Each group organized a presentation for friends, family or schools which they invited to visit the exhibit on a particular date and time. Once the exhibit arrived most students collaborated as exhibit guides and with the hands-on activities not only as a class project but during all of April. Students that are working in undergraduate research in astronomy with Dr. Mayra Lebrón and with Dr. Carmen Pantoja also worked as guides and with the hands-on demonstrations. We had visitors from the UPR community, students professors and employees. We had
many schools (K-12) visit us. We also had visitors from the Puerto Rican community in general.


The tactile images that were included with the exhibit were displayed in the same area as the visual images. The school children enjoyed touching the different astronomical objects and learning about Braille. Professor José M. Álvarez (UPR) visited the exhibit with the students from his course on Braille (Education Faculty). We had an additional collection of the tactile images displayed in the Library Unit for Persons with Disabilities. In this location the persons could explore the images in a setting in which the images were displayed on a table, together with translations in Spanish Braille. The tactile collection was also used at the Museum of Puerto Rico during the Workshop “Hands that See” (“Manos Que Miran”) directed by the Blind Sculptor Luis Felipe Passalaqua. This is a workshop directed at blind and visually impaired persons to learn about sculpting. The class took the time (April 21, 2013) to explore the tactile collection with the help of Gloria Isidro (Graduate student of the Education Faculty at the UPR). Fifty teachers that were participating of the workshop: “Interdisciplinary Project to Improve Learning in Mathematics and Science” visited the exhibit (April 20, 2013). The teachers had the opportunity to visit the images and the demonstrations. They also were presented with the tactile collection and received information about how to make adapted materials for science classes (http://materialdidacticoparaciegos.blogspot.com).

An event called “A Physics Night” was organized by Dr. Mayra Lebrón, Professor Mario Lanza and the Astronomical Society of the Caribbean on April 23, 2013. This event was open to the general public. The visitors could enjoy the HTE exhibit and demos, and also view different astronomical objects (Saturn, Moon, others) through telescopes set up on the UPR campus.

–Dr. Carmen A. Pantoja
Physics Department UPR-Rio Piedras

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