Hands-on astronomy on the Girls’ Day

In a well-established tradition, the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics joined in the nationwide Girls’ Day again this year. The available 30 spaces were filled rapidly and all the girls expressed an interest in astronomy or the skies above even before the programme had started. This year, a group of junior, female MPA scientists had prepared a hands-on session in addition to the live presentation in the planetarium and a Sun-gazing session (the stars being unobservable at 10 am).

Fig. 1: Logo Girls’ Day

Fig. 2: In the hands-on session, the girls could build their own spectrograph using old CDs.
(c) H.-A. Arnolds, MPA

Fig. 3: About 30 girls learned about a career in astronomy from female MPA scientists.
(c) H.-A. Arnolds, MPA

While the girls were a bit shy and quiet at first, they soon started to ask questions, about astronomy, career options and the possibility of internships. This direct contact was especially easy when the whole group broke up into smaller teams to work on the hands-on projects. These ranged from building a model of the solar system to visualise the enormous distances to calculating your weight on other planets or making a star chart to orient oneself on the sky.

Most of these “experiments” were adapted from the kid’s programme of the Open Day and from GalileoMobile, an itinerant science education project that brings astronomy to young people and local communities mostly in developing countries, though not exclusively. The project aims at fostering a wish of learning through the exciting wonders of our Universe, by organizing astronomy-related activities in schools. Initiated in late 2008 by a team of young astronomers, GalileoMobile continues the efforts undertaken during the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and plans future expeditions, cooperating closely with the “Galileo Teacher Training Programme”.

The Girls' Day is an initiative throughout Germany to encourage girls to learn more about occupational areas that are still male dominated and that girls consider only seldom when it comes to choosing a career path. And even if some girls probably participated because it amounted to a day out of the classroom, most of the group was very interested in the work of the female scientists.

For more information:

linkPfeilExtern.gifGirls’ Day


Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
Press Officer
Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching
Tel. +49 89 30000-3980
E-mail: prmpa-garching.mpg.de