Geoff McNamara with his telescope.

Geoff McNamara with his telescope.

New telescope allows students to see further

Out of the ashes of a telescope site at Mount Stromlo, an exciting new building has risen to inspire young people and help them gain a better understanding of science. ROSE SCHMEDDING, BA ’82 reports.

It started with what seemed to be an impossible dream. Melrose High School teacher Geoffrey McNamara wanted a small home on a hill for his telescope to teach his students how to find their own answers to the big questions of the Universe.

Questions such as, what is the mass of Jupiter? What is the size of mountains on the Moon? How long will the Sun live?

For ‘Mr Mac’, inspiring students into science is his vocation.

“What this telescope was designed to do was educate the students, to give them a deep and lasting understanding of the nature of science and how scientists learn about the universe,” he says.

“That can only happen if we give ownership – and responsibility – of the learning to the students, to get them to collect the data, analyse it, and send them back a third time to do it properly. Students can and do rise to the standards we set for them.”

McNamara already had the telescope, it just needed a secure building to house it so when he went observing with his students, they didn’t have to spend precious time on set up and packing away.