Passport to imagination: Join Malaysia’s first Angkasawan in the Venus Fun Run this Sunday to learn about space and rocketry

Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor made history by becoming the first Malaysian astronaut to travel to the International Space Station in 2007. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor made history by becoming the first Malaysian astronaut to travel to the International Space Station in 2007. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — If you’re looking to fire up your child’s imagination and learn about the wonders of space, join Malaysia’s first astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor at the Venus Fun Run event in Putrajaya this Sunday.

Organised by Astronautical Association of Malaysia (Astro X) in collaboration with Perbadanan Putrajaya and the Malaysian Health Promotion Board (MySihat), the five-kilometre run aims to encourage, inspire and motivate people of all ages and backgrounds to have a fun-filled and educational family day out.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, who is also Astro X patron, said the idea behind Venus Fun Run was to promote space exploration and science education to the parents, youth and the future generation.

Besides the five-kilometre run, look forward to a science fair to demonstrate rocket launches and other fun STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) activities for children and families to enjoy.

To better help educate children about rocketry, the event will demonstrate various types of rockets, including stomp rockets, air-pump rockets, water rockets and a 1.2-metre-tall rocket.

There will also be science experiments, including the science of liquidity, hot-air balloon, smoke cannon among others.

Astro X was established in 2009 to bring together all the final 59 candidates of the Angkasawan Programme with the objective of generating interest and promoting knowledge in the field of aerospace science among youngsters. 

For the past 10 years, the association has been conducting science-related activities in schools across the country to promote STEM education.

Citing a study, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar said a recent survey by the government suggested that schoolchildren’s interest in science was declining.

However, he disagrees with the findings as the survey’s focus was only on secondary school students.

“When I have talks for primary students and young children, they show strong passion for space and science, but when they enter secondary school, their interest tends to change,” he said.

Being the first Malaysian to spend 11 days in the International Space Station, 400km away from planet earth, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar said aerospace science is the new frontier and children are fascinated by it.

“All the kids I’ve met are very curious about space and show lots of interest to explore the world around them,” he added.

“Therefore, it is very important to start educating them at the very young age when they are still fresh and can absorb things faster.”

To do that, Astro X launched a free application called GoCikgu, available on Google Play and App Store to help teachers and students conduct rocketry projects that are easy to build and launch.

Astro X president and former trainee of the Angkasawan Programme Captain Faiz Kamaludin said the app allows teachers to use any of the 18 available modules on the application to educate the kids or even register the school to form a club.

“Schools can also book a date and send the students to Astro X’s Go: STEM centre in Kajang, where they get to take part in hands-on experiments and activities,” he added.

Students exploring solid fuel rockets at a rocketry workshop organised by Astro X. — Picture via Facebook/Astronautik
Students exploring solid fuel rockets at a rocketry workshop organised by Astro X. — Picture via Facebook/Astronautik

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar hoped that the government would consider emphasising on space education and also create more job opportunities for the existing aerospace engineers.

“Malaysia has about 6,000 aerospace engineers but none of them are doing what they are supposed to do due to lack of demand and jobs here,” he added.

“So, these are the things that need to be addressed before encouraging more people to pursue aerospace engineering.”

Forecasting the future, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar said he believes whoever conquers space will eventually conquer the world.

“That’s the reason why countries like US, China, Russian and even India are investing heavily on their space exploration programme to send astronauts to space,” he added.

The Venus Fun Run will take place at Taman Wetlands in Putrajaya from 7.30am onwards.

Registration for the run will be open until the event day and if you use the promo code “malaymail” you get RM10 off the RM60 registration fee.

The science fair for children will be free of charge.

Surf over here for more information.

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