Space-Themed STEM Programmes For Kids

Author’s Blurb: When I entered my first day in the science stream in Form 4, I just couldn’t tackle or find topics like physics and chemistry interesting. It made me give up completely and go into the arts instead.

Syukran realized that only 19% of students choose to enter science and knew there was a problem in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in Malaysia.

Therefore, he started a space program to get kids to get into high-value industries like engineering, robotics, and data science.

After serving at Petronas for 10 years, he became a consultant for the Malaysian aerospace industry.

There, its role was to support and promote the growth of the Malaysian aerospace sector.

“If we are to change the trend – the erosion of interest in STEM – we have to change our traditional approach to STEM education,” he said.

Combined with his experience and the rise of edutainment theme parks like KidZania, he decided to dedicate the next stage of his life to developing space-themed enrichment camps, like no one in it. other in the Malaysian market did.

The Martian launched the idea

The idea to create the Generasi Marikh Academy came to Syukran after watching The Martian in 2015.

“I was inspired by the ingenuity and tenacity of the character astronaut Mark Watney, left for dead alone on Mars and survived by solving one problem after another using science and engineering,” he said. .

“This is the kind of positive storytelling we need to change the narrative of our next generation. To be leaders and innovators, not only users of technology but also creators. “

Syukran trains a class of ‘space cadets’ / Image credit: Generasi Marikh Academy

The Generasi Marikh Academy conducts its programs as leadership camps, with an emphasis on STEM and space content hosted by experienced trainers from the industry.

As to why he’s doing all of this, Syukran predicts that there will be a demand for professionals in the space industry beyond being an astronaut.

“Most space jobs are on the ground, for example, robotics satellite and rocket engineers, data scientists, software engineers, planet and Earth observers,” he said. -he explains.

“These talents can also be used in other industries, especially as the country wishes to evolve towards high added value industries in the future.”

Trainers work with learning and development specialists to design modules that are both educational and fun.

These include hands-on activities, organized tours, role-playing and gamification.

Occasionally, they collaborate with robotics, drones and coding vendors to hold more in-depth technical workshops.

Children use virtual reality in their workshop / Image credit: Generasi Marikh Academy

“One of our flagship camps, The Space Race Junior, replicates the astronaut selection process by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) where we focus on education in health, fitness and nutrition, ”said Syukran.

“We also place emphasis on teamwork and communication skills. Astronauts are great communicators and some are very charismatic. We want to encourage our space cadets to become future leaders, ”he said.

Overall, programs like these aim to develop a child’s soft skills while highlighting local societal issues.

For example, Space Race Junior aims to highlight the problem of obesity, as Malaysia has one of the highest obesity rates in Asia.

Feeding the next generation

Currently, the Generasi Marikh Academy has hosted 6 camps, each attracting 25 to 50 children per batch.

CSR programs involving orphanages and rural youth can reach between 100 and 250 children.

Syukran also maintains a close relationship with the parents in order to nurture the child’s interest in their programs and to inform them of upcoming space events and workshops, which they appreciated.

“I usually spend time with parents before and after camp to share my perspective on how to further nurture their children’s interests. They follow me on social media and often become good friends. I try to add as much value as possible, ”he shared.

“Obviously, it will take a few years to see the direct impact of my camps on a child’s education and career choices, but we do our best to nurture those who show keen interest.

Syukran welcomes participants to the program / Image credit: Generasi Marikh Academy

Syukran runs Generasi Marikh as a project of passion. Its moderating team primarily includes college and university students studying in STEM fields, with occasional speakers from relevant industries.

However, due to COVID-19, the team had to disrupt their camps and switch to selling merchandise on their website.

He said that the fact that kids already love collecting academy merchandise like the various designs of t-shirts and mission badges offered at camps helps kids, keeping them coming back for more.

Some of the merchandise from the Generasi Marikh Academy / Image credit: Generasi Marikh Academy

Once the pandemic is over, he hopes to grow the academy by leading his programs with schools.

Exploring Malaysia’s Future in Aerospace

Syukran was also recently invited to contribute to a workshop launched by the Malaysian government to outline Malaysia’s new industrial master plan to discuss the role of aerospace sectors for the country’s economy.

So, we were curious about what he thinks is needed for the local space industry to move forward in the future.

Syukran on his research trip to NASA in California / Image credit: Generasi Marikh Academy

“We have to look at countries like the United Arab Emirates and India to see how they are developing a space industry from scratch. Closer to home we have Australia, Thailand and Vietnam aggressively developing their space industries, launching satellites and other space programs that have a direct impact on the economy and communities. Singapore is positioning itself as a press space hub, focusing on space applications, he said.

“The UK space agency plays an important role in building links between academics and industry, and the government has identified the UK space sector as a key contributor to its economy.”

He finally added that the Malaysian Space Agency (MYSA) already intends to table a new space bill in Parliament soon.

Conclusion: I am happy to hear that plans are underway to develop the Malaysian space scene as it is still a fairly new sector that we hardly hear about locally.

  • You can read more about Generasi Marikh Academy here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Generasi Marikh Academy

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Jothi Venkat

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