When Ruzanna Tumanyan, 62, was a student she thought constantly about the sky. She wanted to be an aviator, specifically a flight tester, but her parents convinced her to become a mathematician. Today, she is Director of the Berd #3 School in Tavush Province.

In January, Tumanyan heard about a teacher training in astrophysics at Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory as part of its From Space to School project. Tumanyan knew this would be the perfect way to introduce a course in astrophysics into the school’s 7th and 8th-grade curriculum. Two of her school’s teachers (one who teaches math, the other physics) were accepted into the Byurakan program. FAR sponsored the cost of their training, as well that for six other teachers from four other schools in the Berd Region, as part of our Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Program (BCPP). All participants were required to pass an exam at the end of the course. Those with the highest scores were awarded telescopes for their schools.

“First of all, it’s all about the sky. Second, my husband is a physicist. We even have a telescope at home. So, since there was a chance to have a telescope at school, I discussed it with staff and we decided to apply for the training,” said Tumanyan when asked what caught her attention about the opportunity.

It was another successful and important cooperation between FAR and Byurakan Observatory. Ultimately, four schools from the Berd Region — Berd #3, Movses, Artsvaberd and Aygedzor — were gifted telescopes. One of the four telescopes was also sponsored by FAR.

As part of From Space to School, Director of Byurakan Observatory Dr. Areg Mickaelian also visited the region, giving two-day lectures to high school students, during which he spoke about astronomy, astrophysics and explained how to use the telescopes. Students were genuinely very interested and asked plenty of questions during the interactive discussion at the end.

Since then, the new courses at Berd #3 have been well received. Thirteen-year-old Davit Tumanyan is one of the active young learners in astrophysics. “I’ve been interested in the solar system since I was seven. I wondered why the planets are round and things like this. I dreamed of becoming an astronaut,” Davit said.

His teacher, Lusine Aslanyan, finds it challenging to introduce a new topic to the class. “Whatever I start talking about, Davit is already ahead of me. He is very curious and learns and studies many things on his own,” she said, adding that both boys and girls in her class follow the subject with immense curiosity and interest.