This activity was part of the “Teaching by Project” program ran by Tierra de Esperanza Foundation and its initiative of Psychosocial Assistance for Educational Reinsertion. In this opportunity, astronomers share an afternoon of science and sushi, prepared by the boys.

Astronomers from the Millennium Institute of Astrophysics MAS experienced an exciting and rewarding afternoon along with 22 teenagers of the Provisional Reformatory Center (CIP, in its Spanish acronym) part of the National Service for Minors (also known in Spanish as SENAME) in San Joaquín, Santiago.

This activity is part of the “Teaching by Project” program, developed by Tierra de Esperanza Foundation and its initiative of Psychosocial Assistance for Educational Reinsertion (ASR, in its Spanish acronym,) projects carried out in detention centers for minors accused of different crimes under the juvenile criminal law, all aged 14 to 18 years old and raised in vulnerable sectors, mostly, they have a dysfunctional educational background and a significant achievement gap of at least 4 years in some cases.

According to Viviana Nuñez, who is part of this foundation and one of the members in charge of the ASR initiative, what they want is “to provide spaces for meaningful learning in this context of confinement, understanding, in this way, that it is extremely complex for these boys to achieve any type of learning because of the conditions in which they live, as a result of non-existent bonds and uncertainty about their immediate future. In this context, we work together with SENAME, mainly in the construction of educational proposals and methodological strategies that can contribute to the decompression of spaces where these boys live during their stay at the Center, in order to make a favorable space for learning possible,” she explains.

In this context, a group of young men part of House 5 of this center chose astronomy as their area of interest, which was motivated by a previous talk given by Researcher of MAS and IA UC, Tomás Müller, who kicked off this research work on this area with them. “Teaching by Project” ended with an afternoon of astronomy with the visit of MAS Researchers: Manuela Zoccali –MAS Director– Julio Carballo – Bello, Javier Minniti, Rodrigo Contreras Ramos, Álvaro Rojas Arriagada, Ósmar Rodríguez and Julio Olivares, and sushi, made by the boys with some help of the researchers.

“The contribution that the organizations involved provide transcends the barriers of confinement, expanding these boys’ options, learning opportunities and knowledge,” Nuñez ends.

A rewarding activity not only for the young men of CIR, but also for MAS astronomers; therefore the institute might not see this as a one-off activity, it might be instead an opportunity to develop a more permanent program with the foundation.