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Destination Nasa – Reach for the Stars...

Immanuel Adriana Rakshana
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Destination Nasa – Reach for the Stars...

“To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don't worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest”

Every student aspires

To be able to rise from the earth;

to be able, from a station in outer space,

to see the relationship of the planet earth to other planets;

to be able to contemplate the billions of factors in precise and beautiful combination that make human existence possible;

to be able to dwell on an encounter of the human brain and spirit with the universe—

all this enlarges the human horizon . . .

Because if you aim to reach for the moon, even if you miss, you land among the stars...

And that is exactly what Aheli Gupta, year 8, Faips DPS, strived to do… and she managed to take her little step to the moon – well to NASA for the time being, through the World of iKen Scientifica.

‘All great success stories began with simple curiosity.’

iKen Scientifica is a concept that reaffirms the fact that education begins with posing questions. In knowing this, it breaks the barriers between theoretical and practical science by bringing science to life through hands-on learning, using innovation and real life scenarios. The iKen Scientifica competition is a confluence of diverse ideas and talents across a given region or territory. It brings a challenging spirit among participants, where the competition serves as an incentive to develop holistic learning capabilities within a child. The iKen Scientifica competition comprised of four rounds: School level, National Level – 1 and 2 and the International Finale.

The School Level

This level comprised of Multiple Choice Test with questions encompassing various aspects of Science, ranging from simple machines to sounds. It was based on observation, analysis, practicality and memory.

The National Level

Part 1 – This Part involved hands on participation where the contenders had to make various different working models, ranging from Model Forklifts to Model CD Drives and present them to the judges. The students also had to answer tricky questions about physical concepts to be selected for the next round.

Part 2 – In this round, the contestants had to make a soccer bot with the supplied materials, which was quite a difficult task. Those who were able to make the model had to answers complex questions about its working and prove their scientific mettle.

A few days after, 6 students were notified about their success and were on their way to the International Finale in Mumbai, representing Kuwait as a team.

International Finale –

The extremely prestigious International Finale, held in Mumbai, hosted 50 students from 10 countries, who participated in two rounds to battle to reach the pinnacle of victory. Divided into teams that represented their countries, the students participated in the activities – Contraption and Crime scene investigation.

Contraption - Teams were given a problem statement based on which they have to design and create a high end contraption. Their task was to create a cable car contraption that completed the task through various chain reactions that triggered the next. Aheli and her team made a cable car that unfurled the Kuwait Flag at the end. This brought out the students’ abilities to understand and analyse a given problem, brainstorm and collaborate views and ideas and execute their designs to perfection.

Crime Scene Investigation – This part of the contest brought out the Sherlock Holmes in each of the competitors, testing the analytical skills of the students as they had to conduct forensic tests to find the culprit in a mock scene of a crime.

Even amongst fierce competition and the added pressure of mystery judges, our very own Aheli emerged triumphant, as a global icon, bearing fruits of her hard labour and vigilant training, proving that hard work, perseverance and enjoying what you do can even help you traverse galaxies of exultation.

The multi-faceted Aheli, apart from being scientifically gifted, loves dancing, particularly Indian Classical Kathak, Painting and is also an avid quizzer who represented her school in KITCO Inter?School Quiz Contest Kuwait. She is also a versatile public speaker and is an active Gavelier at Toastmasters.

Join me on my voyage across the galaxies of stars shining with conscientiousness, array of colourful nebulae showcasing the wonders of diligence, gazing through the constellations of determination, Destination NASA – with Aheli…

• We know each other quite well from school, Aheli, but for the benefit of our esteemed readers, Do tell us about yourself.

I hail from Kolkata, India and am the only daughter to my parents. l am 13, study in class 8 of FAIPS DPS Kuwait . l have spent my childhood in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh and came to Kuwait in class 4. My father is a Mechanical Engineer working in Kuwait Oil Company and my mother is a kathak exponent and artist.

• What made you interested in the iKen Scientifica?

I always had a knack for science and technology, and competitions which involved these. When our school first announced about iKen, it naturally attracted my interest as I liked exams which were not completely school-book based. I remember the first day when I got the leaflet and read it, and the first thought that crossed my mind was "l'm going to participate in this surely, I hope to do well." The prize of a paid trip to NASA fascinated me, but it was a long way to go.

• You must have gone through various levels of selection until you reached your final accomplishment. Can you shed some more light on your journey to success?

For the first round, the questions were concept-based and required analytical thinking, and l was quite satisfied after I gave the first round.

In the 2nd round, approximately 3000 students from various schools in Kuwait got selected. I was told to make a practical model of a Mechanical Sieve within a short time period with various moving parts, present in a kit. I could successfully make this within the time frame and demonstrate the functioning. l was qualified to the 3rd round .

In the 3rd round, the number of participants dwindled to 300 and I was quite excited. This round was again practical; I was asked to make a difficult model- a soccer bot! The judge asked me quite a few tricky questions after he saw the model. Although I was quite pleased with my performance, I was not sure if it was good enough to put me through the 3rd round

A couple of days later , the result came out that I was selected for international final , that was the time when l thought … I've come this far , there's no turning back now . Then onwards, l started preparing for the international round.

• How did you prepare for the various different levels of selection?

Well, for the 1st level, l read textbooks and references on physics and maths mostly. Plus , as they were models , so I really didn't need to memorise anything, but tried to apply the various things which we learn practically . Before the 4th round, I got a solid 2 weeks of holiday time as the summer holidays had started. During the holidays, I studied physics more apart from other related subjects, as from the previous rounds I had an inclination that it will be based on machines and laws of mechanics. Nobody here could give us a clear idea as to what would the 4th round consist of. I also saw a few websites on the practical demonstration and animation on simple machines.

• Tell us about the people you met in India, the atmosphere, how you felt interacting with so many new people from various different regions? Relate your experiences. Did you acquire any new acquaintances?

Well, we went from Kuwait as a team of 6 members, but I met my teammates in Mumbai, as

Immanuel Adriana Rakshana
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