If you have the slightest interest in space, or even going to space, we found the event for you! Make Space Yours is an initiative, led by the brilliant Omar Samra and powered by Inertia, to inspire Egyptian youth to consider the space industry as an actual career and not only as an elusive childhood dream.
About the event:
Season one of Make Space Yours program collaborated with a variety of local universities and schools to inspire students in 9 different governorates in Egypt. As the first stage of the initiative, season one was centered on education and developing an interest in space travel, technology, science, and innovation among a mass audience.
Season two of Make Space Yours will take off this November and aimed at a younger audience through partnerships with schools across Cairo to create a competition for children interested in science and space-related topics. This season’s competition will consist of two rounds; the first round begins with children from two age groups (8-12 & 13-17).
Winners from the junior age group (8 – 12) will gain admission into the Make Space Yours Camp with Omar Samra as well as win free tickets to experience weightlessness in AERODIUM Egypt.
The finalists from the older age group (13-17) will also move on to the Make Space Yours camp and one winner will be shortlisted from 10 to travel to the USA or France with Omar Samra for a once-in-a-lifetime Zero Gravity flight.
But you might wonder, how did this event even start? This takes us way back!
It all started with a 7-year-old Omar Samra dreaming of space and aspiring to become an astronaut when he grows up. Samra reminisces about how his interest in space and astronomy first developed, explaining:
“Like many kids at that age, I was interested in many things that had a sense of mystery, magic or were somehow unexplainable. It was only natural that I became curious about space and space travel.”
With time, this curiosity was met by a realization of how difficult it actually was to achieve this dream. As young Samra grew older, he was confronted by the challenges of fulfilling his ambition in Egypt going on to state:
“[Becoming an astronaut] is a very difficult objective regardless. Nevertheless, being Egyptian as well adds another level of complexity to it. We obviously don’t have a space program and it is not an area that we as a country give much attention to”.
Changing the Culture of Space Science
What was more challenging is how people perceived space in Egypt. We live in a society that does not understand what space means. The team of Make Space Yours was mostly faced by a very common reaction towards the idea of space from the public.
Samra further explains:
“When we talk about space to people, even older people and intellectuals question the purpose, arguing that a country like Egypt should be focusing on feeding its people and calling space a ‘waste of time’”.
Fostering and developing a culture that comprehends the importance of space science and exploration is the main objective of the initiative. For Samra, “getting kids interested in space; understanding that it’s a valid career for them” is a vital step in changing this negative perspective and getting the public more and more interested in space science.
The Competition: Second Season
The second season of Make Space Yours builds on the momentum built by the first season. Although the initiative visited countless schools and universities across Egypt, many students didn’t know about the program and, hence, weren’t able to participate.
This time, however, Make Space Yours developed an online competition where the participants create a profile and share their stories on Facebook and ask their friends to vote. The voting process results in a group of 60 people shortlisted for the final round that is set to take place in January.
Following the online process, a series of school events will be prepared where children will be split into age groups and compete in a variety of challenges. A group of finalists from each age group will be selected to attend the Make Space Yours Camp, with juniors receiving the added prize of a skydiving simulation at AERODIUM and one senior traveling with Omar Samra to the US for a Zero Gravity experience.
Omar Samra “Iceman”
Besides being known as the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest, the 7 Summits and ski to both the geographic South and the North Pole, Samra (AKA “Iceman”) is also a scientist-astronaut candidate at Project PoSSUM, scientist-astronaut candidate at PHEnOM Project, future astronaut at XCOR Aerospace, and member of the Citizen Science Association.