World Space Week, celebrated internationally from October 4 to October 10, saw hundreds of South African pupils take part and engage in the I-Innovate programme, which linked learners to experiments aboard the International Space Station through the renowned ExoLab programme.
“This is the world’s largest space event with activities taking place in more than 95 countries. We wanted to give South African children the opportunity to join in this celebration of science and technology to learn more about how exploring space can inspire and improve the lives of our youth,” said Trisha Crookes, CEO of I-Innovate.
Spearheaded by the Sakhikamva Foundation, highlights of the local event included a virtual talk and engagement with a veteran NASA astronaut and a hands-on launch of rockets at the Cape Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology.
The virtual talk with NASA astronaut, Gregory H. Johnson, was held at Goodwood College. Johnson piloted two famous space flights, the first of which delivered a logistics module and equipment to the International Space Station.
“We’re excited that pupils were learning through sharing experiences. They not only got to hear the amazing and adventurous stories that Gregory Johnson had to share and listen to that truly resonated with them, but also had the opportunity to have their own voices highlighted by exhibiting their own inventions, innovations and ideas related to satellite theory, astrobotany and rocket theory face-to-face with an astronaut.
“To have conversations with a real astronaut and to be part of the team conducting their own rocket launches, has made the possibility of a career in science, technology and even space, much more tangible to them. We want young South Africans to be a part of the next generation to explore space.”
In addition, I-Innovate has partnered with leading global IT service provider, Tata Consulting Services (TCS), who has sponsored the SA World Space Week activities.
“This has been a wonderful opportunity for our learners to explore science, technology and space, and be part of a worldwide pioneering movement,” said Nikhil Dabhole, HR head of TCS South Africa.
“Exciting space-related activities engage learners in STEAM learning, igniting their interest as they see the real-world value of science, mathematics and technology. It’s the opportunity for young people across the range of South African communities to become inspired when it comes to the subjects that are driving transformations in our world.”
Pilot and founder of Sakhikamva Foundation, Fatima Jakoet said the launch of the Sakhikamva Space Agency for the Youth (SSAY) was a wonderful experience to work with pupils from the space programme.
“The focus was on teaching them to build the rockets and giving them the opportunity to propel their own water rockets, which travelled between 20 to 25 metres high. A wonderful, hands-on way to both celebrate World Space Week and ignite a love of space and a curiosity about space travel. We are looking forward to launching a variety of rocket types with our rocket club.”