June 1st, 2020: Over 70 students from Grade 5 at Nibras International School, Dubai, had the unique opportunity to virtually meet and speak to “astronaut candidate”, Mohammed Sallam. Sallam, the only remaining Arab participant from the Middle East, in the Mars One Mission, answered questions from students and shared some valuable information about space and the planet Mars.
“Space is my passion and I am a curious guy. Every day I wake up I need to learn something new or explore a new thing,” Sallam explained to the students. “When I was your age I got to find out about the solar system. We found out about the eight planets and I used to ask what is their purpose? Are there people there? I was told no, but I couldn’t really believe that. That is when I decided if there is a mission to explore these places I want to be there,” he said when asked about what made him want to become a part of this mission.
The Mars One Mission began with 200,000 global participants and will end with 24 finalists being selected next year; they will then begin training to be a part of the 2031 mission to Mars. When asked how it feels to be the only Arab participant who has made it to this round, he said: “It is my goal, but I represent so many countries. I want this region to be a part of this program. I know the new generation will have so many scientists and engineers that will represent the region as a whole, in the future. I’m one step in a very, very large staircase.”
Althea Edmonson, Head of Primary at Nibras International School, explained why it is important to organize events like this for the students. “The Grade 5’s are currently learning about Space through their distance learning lessons, so when this opportunity came to light, we knew that it would be a very informative and memorable experience for our students. It is great for them to be able to learn about the subject through theory-based learning but being able to learn from someone training to be an astronaut is a unique experience.”
The one-hour seminar allowed Sallam to share his vast knowledge about Mars and what the Mars One Mission hopes to accomplish. He used a cup to cleverly show how they hoped to make the red plant blue once again with terra-genesis, and he also reminded students that hard work and passion are the key to driving them towards success.
“There is a window for everyone, you just have to work hard to find yours. I was studying space because I love it and I wasn’t expecting something from it. Now I get to lecture in the biggest universities ever, I get to meet other astronauts, I even met the Egyptian scientist who helped Buzz Aldrin get to the moon. Even if I don’t become a full-fledged astronaut, I’m okay with it because I have learned a lot and I have a lot to share with the future generation like you,” Sallam said.
While the topic of COVID-19 was touched upon, Althea Edmonson, reminded students that this was a great time to define goals and begin working towards them. “Mr. Mohamed is a truly inspirational guest speaker for both adults and students, especially during these difficult and challenging times. Sometimes our goals seem so far away, but Mr. Mohamed persevered, he studied hard and through his passion achieved his goal and dream. It is important for all of us, especially you as students, to have aspirations and now is the time to set goals and work towards your dreams,” she concluded.
Nibras International School (NIS) – Dubai, part of International Schools Partnership, a global group of 45 schools, is one of the few affordable American curriculum schools in Dubai. The school is NEASC accredited, a globally recognized standard of excellence through which students get accepted to the best international universities.