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PETALING JAYA, July 1 — Imagine running through a sea of flames while being surrounded by the sounds of erupting volcanoes and thunder clouds of sulphuric acid.
That’s what it would be like to run on the planet Venus, and what the Astronautical Association of Malaysia (Astro X) is trying to highlight at its five-kilometre Venus Fun Run event in Putrajaya this weekend.
President of Astro X and former trainee of the Angkasawan Programme, Captain Faiz Kamaludin, said the event was an initiative to showcase the association and the many science-based projects that it has conducted over the years throughout the country.
“We realised that not everyone is excited when it comes to ‘space’ events, but if you have fitness events like a run, you can cater to the masses,” said Faiz.
Being an avid runner himself, Faiz decided to organise a fitness event called the “Venus Fun Run,” which will also feature an array of astronautical themed activities to educate people and spread awareness about the wonders of space exploration.
The Venus Fun Run will take place on July 7 at Taman Wetlands in Putrajaya, and will be flagged off by Faiz’s old friend, Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, Malaysia’s first astronaut.
The run wasn’t named after the second planet in the solar system just for fun.
It will intentionally be flagged off at 8am, just as the sun starts to raise the temperature here on Earth.
“We wanted to simulate what it would be like on Venus, running in the heat, because if we don’t take care of our carbon footprint, Earth will turn into Venus in the next four million years,” said Faiz.
Not to worry though, Faiz is not trying to make you sweat as the main focus is to have fun.
You may not be able to get the biggest medal, but you get the chance to learn about rockets — and even launch some too!
“I want it to be a fun event, something the whole family can take part in, a relaxing day at the park, watching rockets fly into the sky,” said Faiz.
I’m sure some parents may have concerns about safety when they hear the word “rocket”, but there is no need to get worked up, these guys are professionals not just with rockets, but also with children.
Astro X has carried out a string of activities in schools all over the country for almost 10 years, promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education.
“We knew that interest in science was decreasing, the Government did too, so they gave us grants that allowed us to go to primary and secondary schools and teach them,” said Faiz.
And what better way could there be to cultivate a child’s interest than learning how to make and launch rockets.
These aren’t your ordinary water rockets, as members from the Astro X team teach the kids how to make solid fuel rockets, and even CC++ programming to measure the trans vectors of the rockets.
Despite the positive feedback they received from the schools, it isn’t possible to be everywhere.
So, Astro X launched a free application called, “GoCikgu,” available on Google Playstore, to provide teachers with a platform to learn more about its projects.
Teachers can use any of the 18 modules on the application to educate the students about science and space.
Additionally, schools can also book a date and send their students to Astro X’s Go: STEM centre in Kajang, where they can learn more about Astro X’s modules and take part in hands-on experiments and activities.
From “GoCkigu” to “Go: STEM,” each initiative is carried out to feed the passion for science in the uninterested younger generations.
“Once kids get older, they don’t care about science anymore. I remember my uncle got me a Chemistry set when I was young and I’ve been hooked on science ever since, so we need to do that, we need to catch them early,” said Faiz.
When he says “hooked,” he really means it.
Although Faiz lost out to Dr Sheikh Muszaphar to be Malaysia’s first astronaut, he still flies through the skies as he works as a pilot for China Airlines.
Even though his stars have changed, Faiz still remains hopeful of venturing into space one day.
“The oldest man to go to space was American astronaut John Glenn, and he was 77, I’m only in my 40s, I still have time.
“If they need me, I’m ready to go,” said Faiz.
It is RM60 to register and registration is open until July 7. Use the promo code “malaymail" and "company GoSTEM" and get RM10 off. Walk-ins are also accepted.
For more information about Astro X or information regarding registration for the five kilometre Venus Fun Run, surf over to www.angkasawan.org.my.