NASA Science Caravan Philippines
NASA Science Caravan “Reaching for Your Stars” Program
in Malanday Elementary School, Marikina City
August 27, 2010
It was rainy Friday morning when I rode a cab going to Malanday Elementary School in Marikina City. I have absolutely no idea how to get there (worse, I forgot to bring a map). Luckily, the driver asked several people for directions. All of them pointed us to find Malanday’s Barangay Hall because the school was just next to it.
As I entered the vicinity, I noticed a big open area located at the center of the campus. It has a stadium filled with posters and banners welcoming the NASA engineers. However, I didn’t see any event going on. There was no sign of the foreign visitors and the students.
I wasn’t aware that organizers were around the area. They noticed my bewilderment and approached me. According to them, lectures were now held inside the classrooms because of the heavy rain and the students (ages 8 to 11 years old) were divided into two groups. Sabrina Singh, spacewalk and spacesuit systems specialist, was assigned to teach space history and exploration; while Adam Gilmore, division chief engineer of the Space Shuttle Program, would demonstrate how rockets work using inexpensive materials. They would later exchange places to complete the workshop for the two groups.
The young students were very active, attentive, and participative during the workshop. Laughs and giggles surrounded the room every time the children were amazed by facts, astronomical photos, and astronauts. Both engineers also reminded these young minds their potentials and the infinite opportunities awaiting them. They pointed out that it is their generation who would go out to space and explore other planets.
After the workshop, I was able to have a 3-minute interview with Sabrina. I asked her how she was able to achieve so much and survived the biases of being a woman in the sciences. She gave me a friendly smile and answered, “I just worked hard and did what I love to do. Being a woman shouldn’t hold you back to reach for your dreams.” I also shared to her about my goals in life and she believed that I could do it.
My day ended full of joy and inspiration. The sight of children – laughing and smiling while learning about space – reminded me how much I imagine myself studying the cosmos since childhood. I hope there will be more activities like this to inspire our youth. We need Filipino scientists and engineers in our country more than ever.
The NASA Science Caravan “Reaching for Your Stars” program aims to inspire and teach young Filipino students to be competitive in science. It has provided interactive lectures and workshops to various schools in Bicol, Iloilo, General Santos City, and Metro Manila. This event was co-organized by the Asia Society Philippine Foundation Inc. and the US Agency for International Development (US AID) mission and Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy, with support from the US Peace Corps.
For more information and photos of the event, below is a list of news articles over the internet: