A “One-way ticket to Mars” fundraising event at the German International School Cape Town (DSK)

Champions in December 2018, the German International School Cape Town (DSK) robotics team, nicknamed “ASAP”, presented the “One-way ticket to Mars” event on 12 March 2019.

It was one of their fundraising efforts to help them represent South Africa at the First Lego League (FLL) world championships in the US in April this year.
The FLL is a worldwide themed programme to encourage learners to develop practical science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills through a hands-on competition. In South Africa, a total of 135 provincial teams entered last year, 31 of which qualified for the National Championships in Johannesburg.
The sold-out fundraising “One-way ticket to Mars” event brought 500 visitors to the DSK.
Team “ASAP” kicked things off by demonstrating the robotic tasks they would have to perform during the FFL championships. The learners also explained last year’s project topic: “Into Orbit – looking at how to meet the challenges of space travel” and showed the audience how to extract methane from the Martian atmosphere which could then be used as rocket fuel to return back to Earth or for further solar exploration.
Professor Ulrike Rivett, director of the School of information technology (IT) at the University of Cape Town (UCT), and a DSK parent, took to the stage to explain the importance
of STEM skills for the future, emphasising how much technology affects businesses and our everyday lives. She is a strong advocate for implementing STEM in all school curricula to equip children with competencies preparing them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

A move to Mars

After a short break, the keynote speaker of the evening, South African scientist, researcher and innovator, Adriana Marais2, a self-described “aspiring extra-terrestrial”, took the audience on a futuristic journey showing how the human desire to explore the unknown has enhanced the development of science and technology.
Marais spoke about a mission that humans have never gone on before. She is currently one of the 100 Mars One Project3 astronaut candidates in the running to move to the red planet within the next decade.
“The reason I want to go to Mars is simple. The allure of the unknown is far more powerful than the
comfort of the known,” she explained. Recent speculations about financial
challenges facing the Mars One project leave Marais unfazed. She is positive that a settlement on Mars will happen in the near future, one way or another.
Her next immediate adventure will send her off to Antarctica in 2020. This off-world experience will simulate living in an isolated and extreme environment to test the limits of current technologies and to find ways of sustainable living. The research will feed valuable information of how to use resources efficiently, this will give solutions for sustainable living on Earth as well
as key elements on how to survive on Mars.
Rajveer Singh Jolly, a 15-year-old-student from India, was invited on stage by Marais to share his story with the audience. Rajveer moved with his family to South Africa five years ago. His passion for space travel and his strong belief that everything is possible, paved his way, and he was accepted at the Space Camp Leadership Scholarship programme in the US. Rajveer is a “Student Space Ambassador of the Mars Generation” and a member of the Cape Town Space Society.4
The evening was closed off by Marais with a Q&A session, where the young generation used the opportunity to raise many questions.

Sandra Farrenkothen is the marketing manager at the German International School Cape Town.

References:
1. See: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial- revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/
2. See: https://www.adrianamarais.org/
3. See: https://www.mars-one.com/
4. See: http://www.capetownspacesociety.org.za/

Category: Winter 2019

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