The Pathways World School Mission Discovery 2018 program began today, 11th Jan, with great enthusiasm. The opening ceremony began with an auspicious lighting of the lamp ceremony which was accompanied by a prayer sung by the ever-melodious Ms. Ritika Wahal. This was followed by an invocation to Lord Ganesha in the form of a dance beautifully choreographed and executed by Urjashi Laha, accompanied by Ms. Ritika Wahal on vocals.
Mr. Ross Barker of ISSET then addressed the gathering, welcoming all the young minds gathered there to the exciting exploration that they were about to embark upon.
A beautiful rendition of the song Just Hold On was then presented by the talented trio – Mehr Ummat, Aanya Dhillon, and Khushi Aggarwal.
The School Executive Director, Dr. Sarvesh Naidu, addressed all present. In his speech, he exhorted the participants to use this opportunity to broaden their horizons, to make mistakes, to learn from them, and above all, to have fun while they learn.
Mr. Sumit Dargan, Principal Middle School, also invited the participating students to explore the limits of their imagination and to share their thoughts and ideas freely during the course of the program.
The participants were then introduced to the Young Edsplorer team – Ms. Shikha Agnihotri, Ms. Swati Wadhawan and Mr. Hitesh Mahashay.
Following this the Master of Ceremony, Sahil Balani, declared the event open and handed over the stage to the Mission Discovery team.
The program is off to an exciting start and we expect to see the various teams achieve great things in the days ahead!
Mission Discovery program started out with the students being introduced to Astronaut Mike Fincke, who held the former American record for most time in Space (381.6 days). The students also met Sarah Murray, Assistant Division Chief, EVA, Robotics and Crew Systems, of the NASA Flight Operations Directorate.
Ms. Murray then shared with the participants her journey. She talked about her parents’ migration from the American South, and of her days growing up, her tryst with college. How she ped out of college to get married and joined the Military, and how she subsequently interviewed for a job as flight controller for the space shuttle program. Her story is a real-life example of how grit and hard work can help you achieve great things in life.
To instill team spirit and to help break the ice, the participants were given time to work in their individual teams and design a Mission Patch for themselves. The students had a lot of fun designing creative new patches which they then showcased.
The students were then treated to a highly informative, yet deeply personal presentation by Astronaut Mike Fincke. He spoke about the various challenges that need to be overcome for humans to successfully colonize Mars, peppering his talk with lots of anecdotes about NASA and his colleagues. He also spoke of his own journey and how his early training as an engineer and an Air Force pilot helped him achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut. All through his talk, Mr. Fincke used his limited Hindi, applying phrases like accha and theek hai with great effect.
Post these the students broke up into their respective groups and worked on the task for the day. Their mission was to design a Mars Lander for their egg, or eggstronaut. After much deliberation and going back and forth between various design ideas, each team tested their designs by ping their landers from the second floor. While a lot of teams landed their eggstronaut safely, a few unfortunate ones did not make it down in one shell. Each successful landing was greeted by loud cheers from the students.
In the evening, the students watched “The Martian” and talked about the difference between the real and the “reel” worlds when it comes to planetary and space exploration.
All in all, it was a fun filled and exciting day and the students went back to their residences filled with energy and enthusiasm for the tasks to come.
The third day of the PWS, Aravali Mission Discovery program dawned with the participants eager and raring to go. The agenda for the day was simple – the students had to work in teams to zero in on their experiment idea and work on their presentations.
Astronaut Mike Fincke gave the students a highly informative talk on the challenges of space research and the applications of space research to everyday life. Both Ms. Sarah Murray and Dr. Julie Keeble then spoke to the participants about presentation skills so that they would have the skills required to effectively communicate their ideas to the judges.
After this the students broke into their respective teams and worked on their presentations. They were helped throughout the day by their mentors. They also had access to all three visiting experts if they needed guidance in finetuning their experimental ideas. The day was grueling as the teams deliberated and researched endlessly. After a quick lunch the students were given more time to work on their presentations. It was heartening to see them all so engrossed in their research.
The evening had a wonderful treat in store for them. All participants as well as Mike Fincke, Sarah Murray, and Dr. Keeble attended a gala dinner hosted by the PWS team in the Sunderbans lawns. The evening saw lots of dancing, great food, and excellent conversation. The highlight of the night though was when Mike took to stage and surprised everyone with a rendition of the song Kuch Kuch Hota Hai!
The dinner gave the students as well as mentors a chance to let their hair down and connect with each other on a personal level. The evening gave everyone memories that will stay with them for a lifetime.
Day 4 & 5
The excitement and nervousness day 4 & 5 were palpable. The final day of the Mission Discovery program had finally arrived! The students were given a few final instructions and tips and then they were off to their respective rooms to deliver their presentations in the preliminary elimination round!
After much deliberation and thought the judges chose the five finalist teams. These teams then went through another round of presentations for the final judging. The judges had a very hard time deciding between the five excellent proposals. In the end, they chose Team 13 comprising of – Navya Mittal (Welham’s Girls School, Dehradun), Shaswat Lall Shreshtha (Rato Bangla School, Kathmandu), Kushal Shardul Doshi (Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai), Ojaswin Singh (Pathways World School, Aravali), Aanya Dhillon (Pathways World School, Aravali), Karan Yadav (Pathways World School, Aravali), and Zayed Arshad (Pathways World School, Aravali).
The winning team were elated and couldn’t suppress their excitement at knowing that something they helped design would be going up to Space! When asked what their major takeaway was from the program they were unanimous in their reply – Teamwork! They told us that their experiment will test the antibacterial properties of traditional plants such as ginger and garlic which are used as curative agents in India.
Astronaut Mike Fincke said in his statement – I am happy to report the successful completion of Mission Discovery where students from India and Nepal learned leadership skills, teamwork, and designed a fantastic experiment to be conducted aboard the International Space Station. The students performed quite admirably and as a NASA astronaut, I was very impressed with the students and believe they will contribute greatly to India’s future. I am proud to have worked on this team.
The program concluded with a speech by Dr. Sarvesh Naidu (School Executive Director, Pathways World School) where he commended the students on their remarkable achievements. He also thanked Astronaut Mike Fincke, Ms. Sarah Murray and Dr. Julie Keeble for their enormous help and their unwavering enthusiasm in helping the participants. Shikha Agnihotri, CEO of Young Edsplorer and her entire team thanked Pathways World School, Aravali for their support in making Mission Discovery India 2018 a thriving success