Hands-on, engaging and exciting experiments are at the very core of STEAM education. At I-Innovate, we love to focus on these sorts of experiments which both delight and educate our learners, partly because this inspires an innate passion for all things STEAM, but importantly because it supersedes potential mental blocks which students might face in traditional education. By exposing learners to the practical, awesome applications of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, we minimise any intimidation that these intense fields might normally incite.
In that sense, one of our most valuable experiments is Magnitude.io’s ExoLab experiment. The ExoLab experiment, which explores the potential of sustainably cropping in space, is a chamber (referred to as a ‘lab’) which hosts the star of the experiment: legumes. The ExoLab is sent on a SpaceX rocket, to the International Space Station, where we are able to observe, in real-time, the effects of microgravity on microbial nitrogen fixation. With a lab in space, a lab in our students’ classrooms, and many more labs in classrooms across the world, we are able to collaborate on a global scale with fellow students and educators while reporting the progress of the various labs’ legumes. This collaboration puts students at the forefront of the discussion, encouraging engagement, seeking hypotheses, and educating young learners on relevant, futuristic concepts. As educators, we are able to form supplementary activities around the experiments, therefore further engaging students and further exploring 21st century concepts.
Local observations, successes and problems are forwarded to the global database in order to encourage a symbiotic, live contribution from all participants. ExoLab emphasises the importance of learning from failure to ensure success in the next experiment, therefore the research is forever expanding and providing valuable insight into agriculture in microgravity.
Our mission at I-Innovate is to bring cutting-edge educational experiences to students and communities across South Africa and prepare today’s learners to be problem-seers and problem-solvers in the 21st century. In alignment with achieving our core mission, we believe in the power of meaningful partnerships and collaboration. For over three years, we have been constantly delighted to be a part the global Magnitude.io community, which has allowed I-Innovate learners to connect to students, teachers, scientists, astronauts and researchers around the world and in outer space.
Ideally our collaborations will continue to expand and we will work with more schools and organisations across Southern Africa, increasing the global impact of ExoLab and other 21st century programmes. To learn more about Magnitude.io and their game-changing experiments, visit https://magnitude.io/.