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The 2017 summer school is being held at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute in Accra, Ghana July 31 to August 5, 2017. You can follow us on Facebook @WAISSYA, twitter @WAISSYA, and our blog: waissya2017.blogspot.com.

The West African International Summer School for Young Astronomers (WAISSYA) is a program held every two years in West Africa. At each summer school, there are approximately 60 participants, mainly undergraduates, from across West Africa. Organized and taught by a collaboration of international astronomers, the main goals of WAISSYA are:
  • To empower West African students to pursue science and think scientifically about the world
  • To exchange ideas on education between West Africa and North America
  • To build a foundation for sustained astronomy partnership between West Africa, Canada, and the International community
  • To build a critical mass of astronomers in West Africa
To achieve those goals, the innovative WAISSYA program is informed by research in science education: it focuses on developing instructors’ teaching practices, and on “inquiry”, a paradigm in which students ask and investigate their own mini-research questions in small teams. We use research-based surveys and student reflections to measure student learning, and revise our curriculum for future summer schools based on the results.  WAISSYA alumni are now attending graduate programs across the globe including in countries such as Canada, Portugal and Cameroon, as well as serving as teachers, scientists and engineers at home.



History

West Africa has huge potential to develop a strong astronomy community. This potential can be realized due to its large number of talented students interested in science and Africa's promise of an investment in the Square Kilometre Array (a cutting-edge new radio observatory built across two continents: Africa and Australia). Nigeria is especially interested in building up a critical mass of West African astronomers and establishing collaborations with universities and astronomy institutions outside the region. This brought about the idea for WAISSYA through conversations held by Michael Reid (University of Toronto, Canada) and Bonaventure Okere (Centre for Basic Space Science, National Space Research and Development Agency, Nsukka, Nigeria) at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly held in Beijing in 2012. 

After more than a year of preparation and international collaboration, the first summer school was held in Abuja, Nigeria beginning 2013 October 21 and ending 2013 October 25. WAISSYA 2013 was attended by approximately 70 students, most of whom were undergraduates. Post-school data analysis showed that the summer school had a very positive impact on students.  For more information, see Page 11 through 14 of the IAU Commission 46 - Astronomy Education and Development - Newsletter 80 (October 2014).

After another two years of preparation, the second summer school was held at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria beginning 2015 July 13 and ending 2015 July 17. WAISSYA 2015 was attended by approximately 50 students consisting of undergraduates, postgraduates and school teachers. Post-school data analysis showed that students improved significantly both in thinking critically like scientists, and also in gaining astronomical knowledge. For more information, see the WAISSYA 2015 Report.

The 2017 summer school is being held at the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute in Accra, Ghana July 31 to August 5, 2017. You can follow us on Facebook @WAISSYA, twitter @WAISSYA, and our blog: waissya2017.blogspot.com.