Sun observations and evening planet gazes were the must-do activities at Byurakan Science Camp this year. The week-long camp held over the summer hosted 50 schoolchildren, ages 9 to 14, who had the chance to play and learn through activities aimed to peak their interest in science and art.

Organized by Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory in cooperation with the Regional Astronomical Development Office of South-West and Central Asia, and the Armenian Astronomical Society, the science camp has been supported by FAR for the past five years. It enables children to combine study and leisure, art and science through a variety of mediums. On one day, campers may hear lectures about astrophysics and civil rights. On another day, they may create mummies from toilet paper, visit churches and castles of the Aragatson Province, draw pictures, or make videos.

Lectures and presentations are held in the world-renowned astrophysicist Victor Hambardzumyan‘s office. Most games are held outdoors.

This year, FAR’s Education and Science Programs Manager Eduard Karapetyan made a presentation about philanthropy. He reminded the children that charity is not just about raising or donating money, but about helping their neighbor, their society, and reaching a friend in need. Many camp participants responded, talking about how they helped others.

Camp Coordinator and Head of the Observatory’s External Relations Department Sona Farmanyan underlined the fact that the camp is organized with goals that look to the long-term future. “We have chosen the specific eligibility age of the children with the hope that many of them have not decided on their professions yet. We hope that the days spent here and the knowledge we deliver will encourage children to be interested in astronomy, or at least in science.”

More than half of the camp participants like eleven-year-old Vahagn Aloyan come from rural provinces. A native of Dilijan City in Tavush Province, he has been interested in space and planets for as long as he can remember. “I learned about the camp on the radio, and I came here to enhance my knowledge. Here, I’ve made friends and I was able to visit Victor Hambardzumyan’s House-Museum. Mostly, I was happy to watch the stars,” said Vahagn. “At age five, I knew the names of all of the planets in our solar system. I love astronomy very much. I dreamed of seeing Jupiter. Although it was not what I imagined—it looked more like a star than the planet we usually see in the pictures—it was still interesting to see Jupiter with its four satellites. I also got to see Venus and Mars.”