When Egyptian children are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” the answer “an astronaut” is usually met with irony. It’s one of the furthest away dreams for any to even think of achieving in Egypt; at least, until adventurer Omar Samra’s latest project Make Space Yours came along.
The Make Space Yours project aims to engage school and university students in the STEM educational system. Through this system, students apply science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in a context that combines school curriculums and the real world, making them working as catalysts for development.
The project targets students at 100 schools and universities across different governorates in Egypt, in order to raise their interest and engagement in outer space.
“Space science is the future of today’s world,” Samra told Daily News Egypt. “All developed countries are investing in exploring ouster space and conducting research to eventually understand the possibility of humans living on other planets.”
Samra said: “I believe that we can create space science awareness in Egypt and dig for hidden talents who can’t find a platform to share or present their ideas. It represents a great platform to inspire youth about space science, identify, and develop young talents, and eventually develops into a pillar of community outreach and dialogue among industry professionals for space experiments and innovations.”
To be considered, university students can send their experiment ideas to be tested in micro-gravity. The winning experiment will accompany Samra to space on his flight in 2018.
As for school students, they are required to write a 1,000-word research paper describing their vision of building a colony or fleet of spaceships to travel to other planets and moons. The winning students will participate in a three-day intensive educational space camp organised by Samra’s adventure travel agency Wild Guanabana and its youth arm Muricata.
The competition launches on 23 November and will run until the end of the academic year. “The online application on the website is open for every student in Cairo and other governorates. We welcome everyone to participate; the competition is not confined to a specific sector. For governmental schools, we are trying to reach a collaborative framework with the government, so we can conduct sessions and create a sense of excitement and engagement for the project,” Samra explained.
The project is launched by Wild Guanabana and supported by XCOR Science & Payloads, who are providing technical expertise and flying the winning experiment to space with Samra.
This project is also in participation with several NGOs, including Injaz, which is responsible for school and university outreach and management. Injaz works on promoting the skills of employability and entrepreneurship among Egypt’s unemployed youth.