In July, 50 young scouts from South Africa had a once in a lifetime opportunity, the chance to talk to an astronaut who was in orbit directly above them.
The scouts had a 20-minute window to ask the astronaut questions and explored topics like what his favourite food in space is, and how he sleeps aboard the International Space Station (ISS). They also pondered the repercussions of space crimes and what would happen if they encountered an extra-terrestrial. Most importantly they wondered what the steps were to become an astronaut.
Megan Evans was selected as a global ambassador to represent South Africa (click the link to see a short clip of her bio).
Drew Morgan was the astronaut answering the questions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). As the spaceship orbited 400km above the earth, Drew was able to connect with scouts from 169 countries around the world – all gathered at the Jamboree.
NASA Astronaut, Greg Johnson at the Jamboree said:
“The ISS is one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of our civilization. These international programmes activate the innate curiosity of young people and foster discovery through real-world experiences.”
The same initiative by I-Innovate has enabled students from Cape Town and Johannesburg to interact with astronauts aboard the ISS. In a project dubbed the Exolab, students were able to gauge the effects of microgravity on plants. They worked alongside scientists, researchers and astronauts to share their findings through a live stream on an online learning platform.
It encourages South African scholars to pursue science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) subjects and “develop 21st-century skills for the future workforce.”
Trisha Crookes, CEO of I-innovate, says she strongly believes that some of these scouts will be in space one day perhaps solving some of our most complex issues through research in space.
“We’re very proud to be a part of this. It’s a platform for young people to be inspired to reach beyond perceived limitations, dream big and achieve great things in the world.”