Viaje a Las Estrellas #2… Santa Adriana

— Kora Muzic

On November 17th 2012, the Star Sailors loosened their sails and set off to Poblacion Santa Adriana in the community of Lo Espejo, situated at the south-western border of Santiago. There, we visited the Centro Abierto Santa Adriana — a community centre that runs an after-school activity for children from families with high social-risk.

More than 100 kids pass through the centre every day and get involved in various activities organised by the volunteers of the centre, mainly parents with children from a school in another part of the city. Centro Abierto Santa Adriana is a beautiful example of human solidarity, where everyone has a chance to learn something new and enrich the life of another person, no matter the social status, level of education, or their age.

The Star Sailors shared their love for astronomy and explained some of the wonders of the sky and technology through various activities, attended by about 25 children of age from age 3 to 14, and their parents and grandparents. If painting a planet or learning about astronomy through magic sounds childish to you, you should’ve been there with us to see that grandmas can enjoy learning through playing just the same as their grandchildren!

Depending on their interests, each child got involved in one or several activities. Some learned about the planets of our Solar system by painting model planets and arranging them in orbits around the Sun. They learned not only the names of the planets, their sizes, properties, and colours, but also placed the asteroid belt right there between Mars and Jupiter! Our little technology-aficionados constructed model satellites from polystyrene and shiny foil, while the future engineers were busy with constructing the antennas of the ALMA project from origami paper. With a help of a globe and a lamp, some learned everything they wanted about eclipses.

A real excitement was caused by launching water rockets that, despite a very simple design, flew so high that we almost imagined them staying in an orbit around the Earth! But after all the rockets were sent into space, there was time for an even more exciting activity — the much-loved magic show by Flo El Mago. There, kids could learn many interesting facts about stars, planets and their moons, with Flo creating stars from interstellar dust right in front of their eyes, and even eating some of them. Bon appetit, Flo!

After the sunset, the ESO volunteers pointed a telescope to the Moon, where many of the children and the adults could — some of them for the first time in their lives — see the seas and the craters of our closest celestial body. The time flew very fast, and eventually it was time for everybody to go home. All the members of the Star Sailor team received a gift from the participants, a bookmark displaying popular characters such as Pablo Neruda and Tinkerbell. Thank you very much, we loved it!

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