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Tuesday June 29, 2010

An observatory for Penang Free School

THE Penang Free School is embarking on a five-year project to build an observatory at the school.

Its project director Stefan Dawson said fund-raising activities would be conducted to collect at least RM300,000 needed for the observatory.

He said the school was hopeful that the funds could be raised in the next two years in order to start construction.

“About two years ago, the PFS foundation raised RM30,000 for the observatory, but at the time we did not consult the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Astronomy Club.

“Later when we consulted them we learnt that the amount was not sufficient to build an observatory.

“So we are going to use the money to buy astronomy equipment and train teachers and students on the usage of the equipment and so on,” he said on Thursday.

Dawson, a former PFS student, said the idea to construct the observatory was mooted when the then director of Malaysia’s National Space Agency Datuk Mazlan Othman visited the school and made the suggestion.

“The school was excited about the idea and we suggested raising funds since then. The RM30,000 was donated to us by UEM Builders.

“We hope this dream of ours will be achieved by 2016 when the school turns 200 years old,” he added.

Dawson said the foundation would launch water rockets tomorrow to initiate the PFS Astronomy project.

Asked where the observatory would be built, he said they were hoping to do so on the rooftop of the school’s building.

He said through the foundation, several projects had been carried out including inviting famous people to give talks.

The funds from the foundation is to encourage excellence projects including conducting research with USM and other institutions.

USM Astronomy Club academic adviser Assoc Prof Dr Chong Hon Yew said once the observatory was constructed, teachers and students from other schools could go to PFS instead of USM going from one school to another.

“This is a good initiative and I hope the project will take off soon,” he added.


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