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SA learners celebrate World Space Week with Rocket Launch

So far, 2021 has notched up three successful civilian space journeys, ushering in a new era of space travel and igniting the imaginations of the younger generations across the globe. With new possibilities and opportunities in space transforming our perspectives of our galactic horizons, there’s an exciting energy to World Space Week this year, which is being celebrated internationally from 4 to 10 October.

Hundreds of South African learners who participate in the I-Innovate programme implemented by Sakhikamva Foundation have been engaged in a range of World Space Week learning activities, including linking learners to experiments aboard the International Space Station through the renowned ExoLab programme. I-Innovate CEO, Trisha Crookes says, “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.”

Highlights of the local event included a virtual talk and engagement with a veteran NASA astronaut and the hands-on launch of rockets at the Cape Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology.I-Innovate partnered with leading global IT service provider, Tata Consulting Services (TCS) which 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,” says 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 says, “Today was the launch of the Sakhikamva Space Agency for the Youth (SSAY) and it was wonderful to work with learners from our space programme which started in July this year at the school the Cape Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology. 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.”

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. Crookes says, “We’re excited that the learners were learning through sharing experiences.They not only got to hear the amazing, adventurous stories that Gregory Johnson had to share and listen to what 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.


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