Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lifting interest in science

TECHNOLOGY BOOST: Rocketry workshop makes students consider careers in aerospace by S. ISTA KYRA

Captain Mohammed Faiz Kamaludin (left) overseeing a student’s rocket launch 
during a rocketry workshop organised at SMK Raja Perempuan in Ipoh. 
Pic by Farhan Najib 

IPOH:  TWENTY-one  students of SMK Raja Perempuan and one from SK Raja Perempuan  built and launched rockets   after participating in a rocketry workshop by the Astronautical Association of Malaysia (AAM) yesterday.
The girls, aged 11 to 14, experimented with making the projectiles after being taught the basics of rocketry, rocket fuel composition, ignition and thrust measuring.
Using simple items such as a 20-sen coin, a tube, wires, matches and a powder fuel mixture consisting of potassium nitrate, sugar and sulphur, the students successfully launched their rockets for some distance.
They were also taught to write a simple computer programme to calculate the thrust of their rockets.
AAM president Captain Mohammed Faiz Kamaludin said the workshop was organised to promote an interest in science and aerospace among students.
"We want to shed the mentality that science is boring and not applicable. Building their own rockets is a hands-on approach that allows them to apply the knowledge that they were taught in the workshop.
"Hopefully, this way they will start to view science as an interesting, practical and fun subject," he said yesterday.
Faiz said, apart from learning in a fun way, the students also learnt the importance of listening to instructions and focusing on their tasks to achieve the desired results.
He and several AAM members, including Malaysian astronaut candidate Captain Dr Mohd Harridon Mohamed Suffian, will travel across eight states in the peninsula to conduct the rocketry workshop at selected schools.
Faiz said the initiative was made possible by a RM50,000 grant through the government's 1Malaysia Dana Belia programme.
"Ultimately, we hope to inspire youths to explore careers related to science and aerospace," he said.
Initially, only two students showed interest in pursuing careers in science.
At the end of the workshop, however, more were considering taking up professions related to aerospace.
For 13-year-old Christina Liew Hor Yan, the exercise was an interesting experience that piqued her interest in rocket science.
"Although I was only thinking about being an accountant or lawyer after completing my studies, it would definitely be an achievement to be known as the country's first female astronaut or rocket pilot," she said.
Maisarah Mohd Arifine, 14, who scored the highest in the rocket experiment, said she was more keen to pursue her ambition as a scientist after taking part in the workshop.
"It has definitely stimulated my curiosity to learn the various fields in science.
"I would love it if more workshops like this were held in schools more frequently."


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