Inspiring a new generation of scientists: 12 thousand Saudi students collaborated with astronauts
In a rare educational motivational event, the two astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali AlQarni conducted three educational awareness experiments from the International Space Station in real time with 12,000 Saudi students across 42 different locations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These real time experiments with the Saudi crew aboard the ISS occurred in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the King Fahd Abdelaziz foundation and its specialized team for talents and gifts "Mawhaba", with schools in Riyadh and Misk.
The objective of these three experiments is to enhance the students' knowledge of space science and its contribution to improving the quality of life on Earth, by juxtaposing their terrestrial based experiments to the ones being conducted in real-time by the Saudi crew aboard ISS. Students could see first-hand how the experiment environment can have a real effect on the results. The focus of the experiments was on Liquid Fireworks, Space Kite, and Heat transfer focused on fluid mechanics, aerodynamics and heat transfer, respectively. This real-time interaction ensured that students had access to the Saudi crew live as they performed their experiments together, one on Earth, and one in space simultaneously to compare and contrast.
The students were divided in three groups relative to their age groups. The first group, 9-12 years, experimented with liquid fireworks, focussing on fluid mechanics. They could compare the effects of microgravity on the speed and shapes of the fluids in space, and witness the impact of gravity on fluids live. The second group, 13-15 years, built space kites to experiment aerodynamics' alteration in microgravity compared to earth. The third group, 15-18 years, experimented with heat transfer to see the changes of color and time in heat transfer under the impact of microgravity in space in the aim of educating the students that radiation is the only way to transfer heat in space and that heat is transferred differently in space.
The three educational experiments are part of the 14 scientific experiments taken by the two Saudi astronauts during their mission, which included a range of tests from human research and cell science to artificial rain in microgravity.
By engaging Saudi scientists and thousands of students across Saudi, the SSC is keen on growing its space sector through its people, by providing them with the opportunity to have a tangible impact on science and to inspire its youth to join Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). This effort is one of many to follow that will capitalize on the HSF program as means to highlight science and to expand Saudi's economy to space.
The efforts by the SSC are designed to prepare future astronauts and engineers, through quality educational and training programs, participation in scientific experiments, international research and future space-related missions – all of which will contribute to raising the status of the Kingdom and to achieving the goals of Vision 2030.