Astrobus - Ethiopia 2021
The COVID19 crisis is affecting everyone everywhere. No county is safe from the social and economic disruptions caused by the pandemic. Consequently, like every activity that involves gathering people in one space, the Astrobus-Ethiopia program has been revised to adapt to this new reality.
We plan to hold Astrobus-Ethiopia 2021 both virtually and in person. The virtual component is to substitute for the movement of people across cities and countries. Astrobus-Ethiopia team members outside the region from where the event will take place will connect to the event through pre-recorded video, and live streams when possible. The local organisers, which we will mobilise from local universities and art clubs, will hold the usual Astrobus gathering on the university grounds.
Astrobus-Ethiopia’s ambition is to reach students from all corners of Ethiopia through this series of events. In the past, the team travelled to the north and the south of Ethiopia. This year, the team plans to travel to the south west of Ethiopia.
Due to current situations in Ethiopia, some areas are inaccessible. As a result of this, we have chosen locations in Ethiopia that are relatively stable, with a high cultural and economic significance, for the next Astrobus event. The Omo region, for example, is a place for the Ari Blacksmiths, who specialize in iron and woodwork, and live on the periphery of settlements. Despite their indispensable contribution to society, Blacksmithing communities are widely regarded as the most marginalised of artisan groups, not just within the Ari but throughout southern Ethiopia where they are known for their craft . Economically, the region hosts Gilgel Gibe III , the largest hydroelectric power plant in Ethiopia with an estimated production capacity of 6,500GWh a year. Being the largest Ethiopian power plant, the Gibe III project is used for floodwater regulation and maintenance, as well as power generation.
Astrobus-Ethiopia 2021 will take place in the Arba Minch, Konso, and Jinka cities.
The mission of Astrobus-Ethiopia is to stimulate a culture of scientific thinking in Ethiopia by promoting science-art-technology-innovation education and creating public awareness around these.
We plan to achieve this by focusing on abstraction and composition, which are the fundamental ideas underpinning the natural sciences, art, technology, and innovation. We design activities to provide an opportunity for the public to explore, learn and understand the main elements of modern civilisation, and how these are realised, i.e. how ideas are created, imagined, tested, mixed, visualised, transformed, and then applied to help improve the state of the world.
We create an environment which facilitates new insights into the spaces of science and/or art, and encourages the composition of these insights to solve real challenges in society. Through interactions with role models – especially for underrepresented groups, such as young women – we help challenge negative stereotypes and reshape the students’ perception of their individual abilities, which in turn also impacts society’s perception.
The art-science-technology ecosystem we create not only allows students to appreciate these essential human endeavours within their fields, but also fosters trans-disciplinary awareness. For example, by allowing students to use artistic methods to demonstrate their understanding of scientific concepts or objects, we help them make transitions and connections that are not only important for communication, but also the development of innovative problem-solving skills.
 Lucy van Dorp et al., “Evidence for a Common Origin of Blacksmiths and Cultivators in the Ethiopian Ari within the last 4500 Years: Lessons for Clustering-Based Interference,” PLoS Genet 11(8): e1005397 (Aug 2015): https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1005397
 Power Technology, “Gilgel Gibe III Hydroelectric Power Project,” https://www.power-technology.com/projects/gilgel-gibe-iii-hydroelectric-power-project/