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Japan radio station, researcher make video on space for schoolkids in 'silent lunches'

Students watch a video about space at Hachigata Elementary School in Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Jan. 24, 2022. (Mainichi/Taichi Nemoto)

KASHIMA, Ibaraki -- At schools in Japan, lunches continue to be eaten in silence as part of coronavirus prevention measures. To help elementary school children in this east Japan city make better use of the quiet time, a local community radio station and a researcher have produced an educational video about space they can watch during lunchtime.

    On Jan. 24, the video produced by radio station FM Kashima and Tetsuharu Fuse, 51, a senior researcher at the Kashima Space Technology Center, was screened for the first time at Kashima Municipal Hachigata Elementary School. Students enjoyed watching it while having lunch.

    The collaboration came about after the radio approached Fuse about how sad it is to see children looking ahead and eating silently while forbidden to talk to their friends.

    For over 10 years, Fuse has conducted science experiments and given lectures on astronomy at the city's kindergartens and other facilities. He believes it is important in education for people's interest to be sparked at an early age, something which is hampered by the local area not having a single facility that teaches science.

    FM Kashima works with Fuse to hold events, but the pandemic has forced them to cancel them. In spring 2021, the station started a "video" team and devised the idea of showing videos in silent meal times. "With video, I can more concretely explain the details of experiments," Fuse said.

    The first movie shown on Jan. 24 introduced topics including parabolic antennas' role in capturing the small amounts of radio waves coming from space. Koharu Uchino, 11, a fifth grader at the elementary school, smiled and said, "I was bored with school lunch, but it was fun today."

    Meisa Jin, 10, said, "I would like to see a video about people struggling in the coronavirus pandemic."

    The second video focusing on zero gravity is already complete and from February will also be offered to institutions other than Hachigata Elementary School.

    Fuse said he hopes the children will learn Kashima has a space research facility and become future astronomers. FM Kashima also wants to "support children's dreams" by showing them local companies in the Kashima coastal industrial zone and other areas, as well as local master craftsmen.

    (Japanese original by Taichi Nemoto, Kashima Local Bureau)

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