Astronomy Education: From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Science at Engalaoni Primary School in Tanzania

In the last period, we learned how our ancient predecessors managed their lives using different types of stars, such as the Pleiades, for daily activities like agriculture and breeding. They understood different times, such as periods of plenty for their livestock, and responded to natural disasters like floods and hurricanes based on their knowledge of astronomy. Despite lacking advanced tools to study the sky in detail, their contributions led to the emergence of various scholars worldwide who furthered our understanding of the sky, discovering stars, planets, the sun, the moon, meteors, asteroids, and more.

Similarly, we learned that science is built from the careful examination of matters, not individual beliefs. Scientific understanding accumulates over time and builds on past discoveries. Ancient astronomers used stars they observed worldwide to guide their lives, much like modern scientists use scientific investigations to discover new things and enhance science education.

New discoveries are often accepted when they align with existing scientific understanding. For example, in 1676, British scientist Robert Hooke discovered that objects with friction, such as balls or springs, have more friction with greater opposing weight. This discovery remains true and has led to the development of scales used to measure various things.

Science education also helps us understand how things can change. For instance, understanding the water cycle allows scientists to predict the effects of deforestation. In the 20th century, German scientist Alfred Wegener proposed that the seven continents were once joined together (Pangaea) and later separated due to plate tectonics. Initially, scientists believed the Earth’s surface didn’t move, making Wegener’s idea controversial. However, by 1960, evidence confirmed his theory, enhancing our understanding of Earth’s geology.

Other scientists like Albert Einstein, who learned Euclidean geometry and recognized the power of reasoning, contributed significantly to scientific thought. Marie Curie, a physicist and chemist, pioneered the science of radiation, coined the term “radioactivity,” and led research on cancer treatment using radioactive isotopes. She also invented the electrometer, a device for measuring small electrical currents.

Charles Darwin, born in England, is famous for his theory of evolution, which he detailed in works like “On the Origin of Species” (1859). Darwin’s observations, including those of earthquakes and soil erosion, contributed to our understanding of natural processes and the formation of mountains. He proposed that favourable traits lead to survival and the creation of new species, and he suggested that humans descended from chimpanzees.

Sir Isaac Newton, a mathematician, physicist, chemist, and natural philosopher, is regarded as one of the greatest scientists in history. He formulated the laws of gravity and motion and invented a small telescope with the ability to see distant objects. Newton’s contributions continue to influence modern physics and mathematics.

These scientists and many others have greatly contributed to the development of powerful devices and research tools, benefiting the modern world and stemming from cultural astronomy’s foundation.

Finally, the students of Engalaoni ask the entire community, including the Maasai, to support their education. Many Maasai children lack educational opportunities because their community still values livestock over education, hindering their developmental and educational progress.

Starry Tales: How Engalaoni Primary School Explores Maasai Culture Through Astronomy

Engalaoni Primary School, nestled in the Arusha region has recently embarked on a fascinating journey into the cosmos, intertwining astronomy with the rich tapestry of Maasai culture. Spearheaded by their passionate Science teacher, Mr. Eliatosha Maleko, the students have delved into the celestial realm through the establishment of a vibrant Science Club.

In a community steeped in Maasai tradition, the students sought to unravel the age-old connections between the stars and their daily lives. From the nomadic pastoralist activities to the cultivation of staple crops like corn and beans, the celestial bodies play a pivotal role in guiding the rhythms of Maasai’s existence.

Among the twinkling stars, the Pleiades hold a special significance, with each cardinal direction bearing unique interpretations ingrained in Maasai lore. Whether heralding the birth of wild animals or signalling the time for agricultural endeavours, the stars serve as celestial guides for the Maasai people.

The students also shed light on the role of meteors in traditional practices, where the abundance of these shooting stars foretells auspicious times for farmers and herders alike. Clad in traditional Maasai attire, the students passionately shared their insights, emphasizing the interconnectedness of celestial phenomena with life on Earth.

As they marvelled at the planet’s orbit around the sun and its role as a vital source of energy, the students called upon others to join them in their quest for knowledge. Through their exploration of astronomy, they not only deepen their understanding of the cosmos but also foster a deeper appreciation for their cultural heritage.

In closing, Mr. Eliatosha Maleko extends his best wishes to all who embark on this celestial journey, urging them to continue fostering cooperation and learning in their pursuit of knowledge.

Bridging Education Gap with Teachers’ Astro-Science Training

Between 9th and 11th February 2023 at the foot of Mt. Meru in northeastern Tanzania a total of sixteen teachers participated in three days of training on an integrated approach to astronomy education in Tanzania.

A range of topics including the importance of astronomy in our daily lives, a tour of our local neighbourhood including our place in the universe, the difference between astronomy and astrology covering both faith-related and scientific aspects of astronomy, understanding the working principles of optical telescopes and other types of telescopes, an insight into what is life on planet Earth and beyond, what is composed in our solar system, the potential of harbouring life in the moons of Jupiter, how to make use of the internet in searching and composition of our solar system, the search for exoplanets and
how all these contribute to science learning and understanding by both teachers and students were covered.

This wasn’t ordinary training as previously attended by most of the participating teachers.  It benefited from the use of technology by bringing in facilitators from different parts of the world including South Africa, the United States, Tanzania and Kenya. The conference employed video conferencing to engage both facilitators and participants in a quality distance learning experience. To some of the participants mainly participating teachers, this was their first experience with distance learning with international facilitators. 

Some sessions had to start earlier than usual in the morning to accommodate speakers and co-organizer residing in different time zones, especially those in the US to not stay up all night. This by itself was a unique experience for participating teachers who have never interacted with colleagues from other time zones apart from theirs at the same time.

Interactive Q&A and discussion sessions with trainers from different parts of the world brought a new way of learning. Teachers were able to understand that it is OKAY not to know everything and it is OKAY to say that I don’t know and let’s find out the answer together. Teachers and participants also understood that it is okay to ask a colleague or even students to help explain and understand some of the things that they are not sure of.

The participating teachers learnt these and much more just by looking at how the workshop facilitators from different parts of the world were working together in responding to some of their questions, but also admitting to not knowing where they are not sure.

The teachers and participants also understood that not every question can be answered with a RIGHT or WRONG or YES or NO, but could be explained to comprehend understanding and learning. Pushing out of our comfort zone was also understood to be okay by questioning everything, even the things that we feel to understand better and take them for granted like our SUN being a start, what is LIFE and that Earth is a small point in the Universe. Understanding and responding to these questions made participants think that maybe we are not all alone in the Universe.

It is at this point, participants found that these lessons were mind-blowing and made them have more and more questions with discussions cutting across one scientific discipline to the other. It is at this point that their thirst for knowledge and to know more couldn’t be quenched in just three days of training. It is also at this point that the participating teachers were introduced to the world of the internet, where they could source information and help them quench their thirst. 

Knowing that the internet could also be a source of wrong information, participants were also trained on how to identify credible sources of information, how and why it is important to reference source of information and use it in teaching, what and how to use a search engine, how to make use keywords in searching for information and how to identify credible information from the internet and make an informed decision on what to use for teaching. To some of us these could look normal and practice, but for teachers who seldom use computers let alone the internet this was a much-needed lesson in starting to use the internet to learn more about science, astronomy and many other interesting things that they can use in their classrooms.

Of course, this training wasn’t all about sitting, participants participated in hands-on activities that helped them to engage more sensors including touching and feeling. To some participants, this was the first time they touched a prism and use it to split the white light to see a rainbow, the first time that they used a glass jar and beaker to see the refraction of light through bending illusion, first time to use the lenses to burn dry leave, first time to use a concave mirror to start a fire, first time to use a magnet and pull iron filling from sand, first time to burn chemical elements in the chemistry laboratory and understand that they burn in different colours and the list goes on… 

Though it is located in the same region and at the foot of the most noticeable Mount in the region, most participants never had a visit to the Mount Meru Astronomical Observatory. Being there for the first time at dusk was the most outstanding and memorable experience that will stay in the minds of most teachers. To most, this was the first time that they visited an observatory and the first time that they saw a big telescope let alone that it is in Tanzania and perhaps the only one among the East Africa Community countries.

There was a lot of AHA!  moments being the first time most realized that there are planets and stars in the starry night that we take for granted. Realizing that stars are twinkling and planets are not, seeing satellites passing for the
the first time, looking at constellations for the first time, identifying the different types of stars and also determining their ages based on the colours of their shining lights.

There were also many more questions including why no white light at the observatory at night, why we take off our shoes before we enter, and why we have red lights at the observatory. It was so many questions that one led another without end. This was fascinating, not just to participants but also to the trainers and observatory attendants who were taking part.

Knowing that it isn’t easy for everyone to pay a visit to the observatory at night with students, participants were also introduced to the mobile planetarium that can to schools and has more students taking part. In The planetarium shows took the participants even further beyond their current on the night sky in understanding and seeing nebula, supernova explosions, space telescopes, black holes and processes for the birth and death of the stars and starry night observation using Stellarium software. Stories of Greek mythology based on their observations of the night skies were also told by nine years old child, Aryaq Mponda Malozo who is fascinated by the starry night sky and mythologies. 

The organizing team appreciates the OAD financial support that was key to the success of the training and will forever be indebted to Kai Staats, Mike Simons, Graham Lau, Zara Randriamanakoto, Susan Murabana, Musa Mishamo, Elineema Nassari, Hamuli Majeshi, Thomas Mbise, Aminiel Mungure and all participants their active involvement that made the event a success. 

Following this successful experience and feedback from the participants, the Mount Meru Astronomical Observatory is looking forward to replicating and repeating this training with interested stakeholders and teachers within and outside Tanzania.  Please use our contact page to stay in touch. 

What is the colour of the Sun?

Mr. Rashidi Mkwinda with his students at Nshupu Secondary School in Tanzania were observing the sun using a Telescope as shown in the pictures and videos.

It was indeed a beautiful afternoon,  with about two hundred students participating in observing the Sun 🌞 .

The main debate was however why the Sun appeared to be yellow using the Telescope, but in hindsight, the sun appears to be a mixture of blue and white and some said it was colourless.


To clear the confusion and enhance understanding, participating students were instructed to seek answers from various books and articles. 

As these observations are going on at Nshupu secondary, we hold on to what these students will find to be the true colour of the Sun. 

Rashidi Mkwinda
Ambassador’s chairman

A new Astronomy Club at Makumira Secondary School

Curious young minds in love with science at Makumira secondary school have decided to form an astronomy club, a platform to learn more about science beyond what is taught in the classroom and asked in the exams. 
The club has started with 14 members including both girls and boys as of the 24th of June 2022. The club expect to have more members with time as more and more students are expected to be inspired by new ways of learning and understanding science.
Visiting the nearby Mount Meru Astronomical Observatory is among the planned activities as none of them has been to an observatory or seen a big telescope before. 
This astronomy club, in close coordination with their teacher Mr Elinmeema Nasari is looking forward to collaborating and exchanging experiences with other schools and astronomy clubs in the area including those at Nshupu, Kikatiti and Ailanga secondary schools. 
As it has been for other students in Astro-science clubs, these students are expected to enhance their understanding of science and improve their critical thinking and ability to ask questions as they embark on a new way of learning. 

A Young Tanzanian Architect

By being a member of the Astro-Science club at Ilboru Primary School, a thirteen years old Izack Kika Tulo has been inspired to create 3D building models using locally available materials. 

The young architecture is detailed enough not to forget key details, including the placement of dustbins, functioning stadium lights,  broadcasting room, display screen, spectators’ bench, VIP rooms, net goals and many more. 

A full-functioning stadium isn’t Izack’s first job, he once created a 3D house out of cardboard that was fully wired with functioning security and interior lights. This work was in the National Competition on Science, Technology and Innovation. Though it did not win, it got him to be even more inspired to come up with this igneous idea of building a stadium.

According to various national education surveys,   there are many students who are unable to read and write at his age and level of education. Surprisingly, this young architect knows how to install functioning electric wiring in a model house and the stadium.

Being a voluntary science educator, I am privileged to have close collaboration with his teacher Mr Eliatosha Maleko who has consistently been helping his children in learning and practising science at an early age. 

If you are moved and wish to support our young architect in his endeavour please get in touch with his teacher through or +255 629 589 122.

Students in Tanzania Learn about James Webb Telescope

Happy New Year to you all,
It is our hope that you are doing fine and proceeding well with your daily activities.
We, students from Ilboru Primary School in Tanzania with our teacher in our science club have learned about the James Webb Telescope that started its journey last year on December 25th and finally reached its destination on orbit, where it carries a mission of replacing the Hubble Telescope that was sent from Earth since the 1990s.
Also, students were very very happy to receive the News about the James Webb Telescope that was sent on the space last year and that they were able to see a short recorded video of that telescope when it started its journey to space till it reached its final destination on its orbit system.
Furthermore, students also saw still pictures of the telescopes and they were able to draw some pictures of it and that of the Hubble Telescope.
Students had a lot of follow-up questions following the session. Some of these questions were answered and clarified by the teachers, but there are some that might benefit from your assistance so that they can have good and precise elaboration from different scholars all around the globe. This will enhance their learning curiosity about astronomy and science in general. 
These questions are:-
1. What are the advantages or benefits of James Webb Telescopes to humans?
2. What is the real weight of the James Webb Telescope?
3. We heard from the report that the James Webb Telescope will replace the work of the Hubble Telescope in space but where will that Hubble Telescope go? will it not affect living things when it may fall or blast on the air?
4. We have learned that the Hubble Telescope since it was sent to space is has been about 32 years, do we know how long will James Webb Telescope last in space, before it is brought back to Earth? 
Thanks very much again and also do not forget to comment on students’ drawn pictures.
By Eliatosha Maleko
Science Club teacher at Ilboru Primary School in Arusha.

Udadisi wa Wanafunzi wa Ilboru kuhusu Jua na Nishati yake

Maswali ya udadisi hapo chini kuhusu Jua na Nishati yake yameulizwa na wanafunzi wa shule ya Msingi ilboru mkoani Arusha katika Club ya sayansi baada ya kujifunza kuhusu Nyota ya Jua. Kupitia kipindi hiko wanafunzi pia walichunguza na kulitazama jua kwa kutumia miwani maalumu ya kutazama Jua (Solar Eclipse Shade) pamoja na vifaa vingine kama Solar Prism. 

Unaweza kushirikiana kwa kujifunza pamoja na wanafunzi hawa kwa kujibu maswali hapo chini au kwa kushirikiana nao kwenye mjadala kuhusu maswali haya na mengine. Ili kufanya hivyo unaweza kuwasiliana na mwalimu wao Bwana Eliatosha Maleko kwa kupitia

  1. Clara Elirehema aliuliza:

           Hapa duniani yako madini mbalimbali ambayo ni muhimu sana katika kuzalisha vitu mbalimbali, je wataalamu hawaoni umuhimu wa kutumia gesi zitokanazo na jua kama gesi ya Hydrogen ambayo ni zaidi ya asilimia 92, Hellium asilimia 83 zinazounda jua?

  1. Rebeca Abraham aliuliza:

       Je ni vifaa gani hutumika kulichunguza na kulipima jua na je, ni vifaa kutoka mataifa gani?

  1. Caren James aliuliza:

     Tunajifunza kuwa wapo wanasayansi na nchi mbalimbali duniani zilizotumia na kupeleka Satelite angani pamoja na wanasayansi katika Mwezi, Je katika nyota jua wapo wanasayansi waliowahi kwenda na je kwenye nyota jua kuna ardhi kama ilivyo duniani?.

  1. Maliki Abasi aliuliza:

    Upepo wa jua una faida gani kwa viumbe hai au madhara gani ikiwa utafika duniani?.

  1. Neema Florence aliuza:

Tumejifunza kuwa umri wa nyota jua ni miaka Bilioni 4 na nusu, Je umri wa jua unapimwaje ? Na je, jua linazeeka au kupunguza mwanga wake au nguvu yake kuanzia lilipoumbwa?

  1. Noela Erick aliuliza:

     Katika masomo ya Jiografia na Sayansi tumejifunza kuwa Nishati huweza kuhifadhiwa kwa muda mrefu, Je mataifa duniani mwote  hayaoni umuhimu wa kuwa na hifadhi kubwa ya nishati itokanayo na jua kama wanavyohifadhi nishati ya mafuta kama vile Petroli, dizeli na mafuta ya taa?

  1. Aneth Aristides aliuliza:

    Nini maana ya Nuclear  fussion, na je ina umuhimu gani  katika maisha yetu ya kila siku?

  1. Emaculata Pauli aliuliza:

     Tumejifunza kwamba jua linatoa joto zaidi ya nyuzi Bilioni za joto na sehemu ya uso wake hutoa joto nyuzi 6000°C, je ni kwanini katika Viwanda vikubwa duniani havitumia joto la jua katika kuyeyusha vyuma vizito na vitu vingine   vinavyohitaji joto kubwa ili kuyeyushwa?

 Wapendwa haya ni baadhi tu ya maswali  yatokanayo na kipindi hicho  ni matumaini yetu kuwa majibu yenu yatatupatia uelewa zaidi. 

Curious, Astro-Science questions from Ilboru Primary School

Curious questions below were asked by primary schools students from Ilboru secondary school following a Science Club session on understanding and exploring the Sun as a Star using protective Sun sunglasses. These students are always happy to learn and share their learning with others through this blog, please get in touch with Eliatosha if you would like to learn with his students by responding to questions below or engaging in discussion with them through

  1. Clara Elirehema asked:

            Here in the world, there are a variety of minerals that are very important in the production of various substances, do not experts see the importance of using solar gases such as Hydrogen gas which is more than 92 percent, Helium 83 percent that makes up the sun?

  1. Rebeca Abraham asked:

        What devices are used to detect and measure the sun and what are the devices from which nations?

  1. Caren James asked:

      We learn that there are scientists and various countries in the world that have used and sent satellites to the sky along with scientists on the Moon. Are there scientists who have gone to the Sun? And does the Sun have a solid surface like the one on Earth? 

  1. Emperor Abasi asked:

     What effect does solar wind have on living organisms or what effects if it reaches the earth?

  1. Grace Florence asked:

 We have learned that the age of the solar star is 4 and a half Billion years, How is the age of the sun measured? And does the sun age or diminish its light or energy from its formation?

  1. Noela Erick asked:

      In the study of Geography and Science, we have learned that Energy can be stored for a long time. Don’t countries see the potential to store solar energy as they do for oil reserves like petroleum, diesel, and gasoline? 

  1. Aneth Aristides asked:

     What is the meaning of Nuclear fusion, and how important is it in our daily lives?

  1. Emaculata Paul asked:

      We have learned that the sun heats up more than a billion degrees Celsius and its surface heats up to 6000°C, why is it that big industries are not using solar energy to melt heavy metals and other materials that need to high temperature to be melted?

Please engage in discussion or share your response. Our children will love to hear what you think of their questions and answers.

We all Hear and Learn Together at Once!

There are many of us, interested in space and astronomy education. It is however not easy for our teacher to bring all of us together in the class and make us listen to the Eyes in the Sky podcasts through his mobile phone. 

This time, this shall no longer be the case. We have a rechargeable, big blue tooth speaker, that is loud for all of us in the class to hear. Even from the far back of the class.  Our teacher bought this for us, through a donation from one of our countrymen in Tanzania, who understands the challenge we face. 

MMAO speaker We also learn better by watching, our teacher has been showing us pictures using his laptop computer. It is not easy for all of us to go through the screen and watch the pictures. Some of us have to let go and hear from those who made it to the screen. This could also be better if have a projector to project pictures and video on the screen. 

We asked our teacher to bring us a project. With your support, we hope he will manage to improve our learning environment with this needed device.