We built the planetarium dome in 2008 with our own money, after consulting and researching planetarium designs.
The Ghana Science Project website shows how it was built: www. ghanascienceproject.net/ building_the_dome.html
The Planetarium was formally opened in January 2009 by the British High Commissioner. 2009 was the International Year of Astronomy and we were the Ghana national node.
On weekdays we host visits by school children and their teachers. As well as planetarium shows we demonstrate science magic and engage the children in questions and answers and calculations. We aim to bring science and maths alive with practical activities.
We hold public and family events and Astronomical Society meetings at weekends. www.facebook.com/ ghanaplanetarium/
Many schools do not have sufficient resources to run practical activities which would bring science teaching alive.
For many adults, science literacy and knowledge are not well developed. This has negative consequences for health, quality of life, and national development. It increases vulnerability to the influence of superstitious beliefs and mistrust or misunderstanding of science.
Currently there is a shortage of students taking STEM subjects at university and this needs to change for the acceleration of the country’s development.
Research has shown that a visit to a planetarium can have an influence years later on a child’s choice to study science subjects.
Thousands of schoolchildren have visited the Planetarium each year. A visit to the Planetarium is recommended on the school curriculum to support teaching about the solar system.
At weekend events we run astronomy-themed craft activities for families, planetarium shows, and telescope viewing. Events have included activities for Pi Day, Asteroid Day, safe Eclipse Viewing.
We have run several workshops for teachers and students at the Planetarium. We have run outreach visits to school science clubs, and visited schools and universities with an inflatable planetarium.
We have had the help of a number of volunteers both from Ghana and from abroad. The Astronomical Society hosts talks and discussions by local and visiting lecturers (latest lecturer was from NASA). From time to time we participate in a shared dome-cast with participants in other countries.
Between 2000 and 2016, as Directors of the company Quality Distance Learning Ltd, we were running distance learning courses for the University of Leicester (UK). The Planetarium was built on the premises rented for distance learning and commission earned for the recruitment and support of distance learning students enabled us to subsidize the Planetarium. This contract ended in 2016 as competition from local MBA providers increased and we were no longer able to recruit a large volume of students. Fees for visits to the Planetarium have been kept at a level which schools can manage.
We've been spending our own money to keep the Planetarium going. Our savings have been drained. We are now running on credit and desperate for funds for:
-Rent US$2000 per month.
-Running expenses, electricity for air-conditioning, maintenance and repairs (equivalent to US$851 per month)
-Staff pay (equivalent to US$343 per month)
-Re-roofing of the summer hut which was damaged in a storm ( GHc3,500 has been raised by an appeal for funds, out of a total of GHc14,500 needed )
Our Proposal is to raise funding for the following:
-The immediate need to cover the shortfall of USD 75,000 per year
-Then for the long term raise enough funds to set up an Endowment fund to support any subsidies.
-Then eventually acquire our own place and move the Planetarium.
Currently the main risk for the Planetarium is that there may occur the need to relocate if the rent can't be further paid. The main challenge will be to find a suitable and affordable place in Ghana.
Our donors will receive a free visit and tour around the Planetarium if they are in the area or ever visit Ghana!
We will name and thank the donor personally on our Facebook Page and Website!
Our donors will receive a personal skype call with Dr. Ashong to learn more about the Planetarium project.