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Friday, December 06, 2019

Bengaluru science educators say space is the next frontier for students

"Most kids in India seem to have the desire to work in the space sector but are deprived of real ways to get there," Gabe Gabrielle, a former engineer at the Kennedy Space Center for NASA said in Bengaluru.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Published: October 29, 2019 5:18:12 pm
Bengaluru-space-education-schools-government-NASA-engineer-Gabe-Gabrielle-Space-Talks Over 200 students from government schools in Bengaluru experienced a typical day in NASA, and at the International Space Station, apart from discussing the future of Mars exploration, and possibilities of space education. (Express Photo)

Considering the growing interest among school students towards space science, a group of science educators is now engaging students from Bengaluru, including government schools, in discussions related to the inventions and innovations happening in the space sector.

The Society for Space Education Research and Development (SSERD), an NGO based in the city, recently roped in a former NASA engineer to interact with students of Government High School (GHS) Peenya and GHS Bagalagunte.

Speaking to Indianexpress.com at the sidelines of the event hosted by the Akshaya Patra Foundation (TAPF), Gabe Gabrielle, a former engineer at the Kennedy Space Center for NASA said, “Most kids here seem to have the desire to work in the space sector but are deprived of real ways to get there. Providing such avenues to chase their dreams and to include it as part of their education from the school level itself would help many in the long run.”

Gabrielle, who has also previously served as the Director of Engineering for the US Air Force’s Special Operations Command, added that such an initiative taken by a group was novel to him as he was not aware of something similar in the other 13 countries he visited in the last few years as part of delivering ‘Space Talks’.

Elaborating on the same, SSERD co-founder Nikhitha C said that it is high time schools began introducing space education similar to how computer science fundamentals were introduced 15 years ago. “With the pace of development taking place in the space sector in India, we believe and anticipate a space revolution and believe each student should know the fundamentals of the same right from their formative age while at school,” she said.

She added that a proper definition for space and its possibilities is missing even though the recent Chandrayaan-2 mission has encouraged many to speak and discuss it among peers and teachers, across schools in the country.

Bengaluru-space-education-schools-government-NASA-engineer-Gabe-Gabrielle-Space-Talks-2 Gabe Gabrielle was in Bengaluru as part of delivering a ‘Space Talk’ in a bid to give a fundamental understanding of the basics of space science to students in the city. (Express Photo)

According to Nikhitha, information on the space sector is confined to a small population of scientists and their families even though the space sector is over 50 years old in India.

“However, as many show interest towards pursuing higher education in astronomy and astrophysics, there is hardly any guidance provided to the students,” she said.

The students also experienced how a typical day in NASA, and at the International Space Station (ISS), would be apart from discussing the future of Mars exploration, among other things.

Meanwhile, SSERD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TAPF to offer space education to over 350 students across nine schools in Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, as part of the Foundation’s mentorship programme designed to inspire children to pursue their dreams and passion.

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