Dubai: Students recreate international space station gadgets in school lab

Space Lab programme will be available as an elective option for Grades 9-10 students in Design under the IBMYP in the upcoming academic year


Nandini Sircar

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KT Photo: Nandini Sircar
KT Photo: Nandini Sircar

Published: Thu 4 Jul 2024, 5:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 4 Jul 2024, 7:48 PM

Various instruments used in the International Space Station (ISS) have now been recreated in a Space Lab at a Dubai school.

In the Space Lab, inaugurated on Thursday at GEMS International School – Al Khail (GIS), students will explore essential topics such as hydroponic agriculture on Mars, 3D game design in the metaverse for social interaction, AI-enhanced robotic pets for Mars, autonomous vehicles for Martian transportation, DIY space repairs, and the use of robotic arms, wearable haptics, and gesture controls for space operations.

The programme will be available as an elective option for Grades 9-10 students in Design under the IBMYP in the upcoming academic year.

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GIS offers a diverse set of course options in design, which include Product Design, Digital Design/UI/UX, Food Design, Fashion Design, STEM Aviation, and now Space Lab.

Student-centered learning

“I don’t want my students to be the consumers of technology. I want them to be the developers. This space is not meant for playing games, it’s a testing zone. Students have been empowered and have been given laptops where they design everything and they go to the Space Lab only for testing. Here, they learn how to grow plants in space. They research on light conditions and humidity,” said Vikas Singh, Head of Secondary Design and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Aviation, Aeronautics, and Space at GEMS International School – Al Khail.

He explained traditional teaching methods are not being used. Instead, student-centered learning environments are created where students can quickly advance their skill sets.

Referring to another project, Singh highlighted students for example are utilising compressed air for mechanical projects to move objects by applying Newton’s third law.

“The driverless cars that have no steering wheel are made to deliver things. This requires students to embed the human ergonomics and the anatomy into the robot, developing a robotic arm that is used in space to deploy, manoeuvre, and capture things,” he added.

KT Photo: Nandini Sircar
KT Photo: Nandini Sircar

Excited students

Excited students elaborated on their work explaining the showcases in great detail.

Pointing to hydroponic farming that is used in space because it uses less resources and space to grow more produce, Russian student Stepan Litovchenko, said: “Here we don’t use soil, we just use water to grow the plants. The water is full of different minerals which is good enough to grow things. Its space-saving. Many different layers can be created. It is good for space. It’s a fully controlled environment so temperature can be changed so you can grow. We did a school project on this earlier.”

Similarly, Grade 10 student Rehana shed light on a remote-controlled mechanical arm often used in space to perform tasks without human intervention. She said: “It can really be helpful in space centres to fix things that humans are not able to and lessens human casualties. It took me around a month to programme it as I had to learn the basic features. It can be used as a real arm in factories and daily household chores, to pick up objects and turn on things.”

An interactive robot also amused attendees. But pupils explained going beyond entertainment, it is a great educational tool. “In one of the Asian Games, for example, this Go2 Pro robot was used in the sport of javelin. So, it can be used for sports, entertainment and can also be used in space,” said Grade 9 student, Chewon.

'Jealous of what you guys have'

Cheering students welcomed Nora AlMatrooshi, the first Emirati female astronaut, and Mohammad AlMulla, who recently graduated from the NASA Astronaut Candidate Class training programme.

The Space Lab was inaugurated with a ribbon-cutting event at the school by the UAE astronauts.

KT Photo: Nandini Sircar
KT Photo: Nandini Sircar

Observing the facilities AlMatrooshi quipped: “I am jealous of what you guys have.”

She added, “I noticed that you have this image at the back of the human brain and it’s actually the core of the human space flight. It is the human. It’s the human’s need to explore. It’s a good reminder that the core of anything that humans do is the human.”

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

The school also indicated its interest in collaborating with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) on future endeavours. GIS also aims to partner with many other schools in Dubai to incorporate aviation, aeronautics, and space into a dynamic curriculum.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Addressing the students, Mohammed said: “I was amazed by the school, the lab and the facilities that you all have in the aviation lab which is my field. Seeing the robotics and space lab I felt safe because one of our goals is to inspire the next generation and it feels like the next generation is in safe hands.”

Among the esteemed guests, the inaugural event was also attended by Aisha Miran, Director General of the KHDA.


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