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Emirates Mars Mission kicks off initiatives to inspire new generation of scientists

A number of specialised programmes have been designed to inspire students and equip teachers and researchers with the tools required to support the UAE's vision for space exploration.
Hessa Al Matrooshi.

The UAE Space Agency and Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) have announced the kick-off of Generation Hope Initiatives under the Emirates Mars Mission (EMM) – Hope Probe, the first interplanetary mission undertaken by an Arab nation.

Held between November 2020 until January 2021, the programme offers an avenue for qualified youth and interested individuals to develop an interest in the space science field.

Since its inception six years ago, the EMM aims to inspire the youth through the Mars mission journey, motivate youth to develop an interest in STEM studies, and to build capabilities in space science research, specifically Mars science, within UAE students and science community by providing the opportunity through different outreach and education programmes.

In line with the mission’s goal, Generation Hope seeks to promote space science education and research and engage with the public from all age groups in the mission.

Generation Hope will also host Hope’s Science Journey webinars series throughout the month of November. It will provide a scientific overview of the mission, introduction to Mars visualisation tools, information on EMM science data access, and more.

The first introduction session was held on November 1 and the second one will take place on November 4. The in-depth session will be held the following week. Registrations for both sessions of the Hope’s Science Journey webinar are now open.

In addition, bi-weekly webinars in English and Arabic will be held with the Emirates Mars Mission team to highlight different concepts in space systems and science and showcase the team members roles in the mission.

Generation Hope will be running two camps in December and January. The first is a five-day Generation Hope Camp in December that will focus on hosting workshops for middle and high school students aged 12 to 18 years old about Mars and related science topics, and the latest updates on the EMM.

The second is a two-day intensive camp titled ‘A Journey to Mars’, that will be held for distinguished undergraduates in STEM fields, where the EMM science team will share their experience and expertise on their journey of development through the mission and insights about important scientific topics related to the mission and Mars research.

Generation Hope’s series of interactive activities also include the annual Teacher Ambassador Programme (TAP), now in its fifth year, which is designed to fully equip STEM educators from different schools in the UAE to serve as ‘ambassador teachers’ at EMM educational initiatives. EMM will provide the teachers with the knowledge and material required to educate and train a new generation of space scientists and engineers. The programme will also launch a competition in December 2020.

The competition titled Newton STEM Challenge aims to utilise teachers’ creativity in process of activities development. In this first version, the teachers will need to design a game, experiment or activity to explain Newton’s laws of motion based on their current curriculum learning objectives.

Commenting on the initiative, Omran Sharaf, Project Director of the Emirates Mars Mission, said: “Generation Hope’s initiatives are in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister UAE, and ruler of Dubai to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers in UAE.  Reaching Mars is not the final goal, but it’s the means for us to build a culture built on research, exploration, and innovation. At the same time, these outreach programmes provide the mission team with an opportunity to share their knowledge and experience with the next generation. We are pleased to see the growing interest in the space sector and look forward to continuing hosting students in activities and events related to space exploration, and hopefully encourage them to consider careers in STEM.”

Hessa Al Matrooshi, Science Deputy Project Manager, remarked: “Developing scientific capabilities in the UAE is an important pillar for the UAE government’s vision as encouraging an environment that motivates innovation and scientific research and fosters a new generation of Emirati scientists, researchers and academics. The Generation Hope initiatives provide youth and students with opportunities to interact and benefit from the expertise of many space experts from leading centres around the world through the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), the educational outreach programme hosted by the Emirates Mars Mission, in cooperation with the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center. We look forward to welcoming another batch of students in the upcoming seventh edition of the programme next summer.”

Moza Alsharif, Emirates Mars Mission Science Initiatives Coordinator added: “Since the beginning of the REU program in 2015, the number of students applying has continuously increased, and more than ever, we’ve noticed a larger number of students specialized in sciences who have shared interest. Overall, the programme has impacted dozens of students, and some changed their career path to pursue space science research as a career. We look forward to more success stories as a result of this programme.”