Astronaut out to

“South Africa is about to explode with opportunity in space and I feel privileged that I can help direct learners towards these fields,” says former Nasa astronaut Dr Don Thomas.

Thomas is involved in the Living Maths Space Tour 2018, from Sunday 16 to Thursday 27 September, which will see him visiting various schools including Kirstenhof Primary School.

The tour, organised by an Observatory-based organisation, is aimed at inspiring young South Africans to become passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

Last year he visited schools such as Claremont High where he gave motivational speech and shared his journey to achieving his goals.

Thomas says he is pleased to be involved in supporting the scientific transformation in South Africa and sees potential for success.

He says: “You have a thriving space and satellite components manufacturing community in Cape Town. Your space agency, Sansa, is already doing great work in the space community. Personally, I am inspired by so many learners who have dreams like I did when I was their age but their obstacles are far greater, yet their drive to succeed is nothing short of impressive. I am very excited to be inspiring and motivating learners along the Garden Route.”

Thomas says he believes that every country needs to build their economy, and being mathematically and scientifically literate is critical to the success of growing the economy. Learners need to be exposed to the excitement that Stem holds and this will encourage them to chase their dreams.

He says learners in South Africa are enthusiastic and passionate about space.

“They ask such insightful questions! In the USA, rocket launches take place frequently. At one point, the USA and Russia were the powerhouses in space. Europe and Asia joined soon after. Africa, specifically South Africa, is about to become the pulse of astronomy with the launch of SKA.”

Steve Sherman, chief imagination officer at Living Maths, says: “After witnessing the excitement and curiosity that Thomas’s last visit sparked about space, we wanted to bring him back, to spread that enthusiasm to more parts of the country. This is a unique opportunity to inspire young South Africans about science, technology, engineering and maths, and hopefully ignite lifelong passions.”