Home Interviews Spacepreneur Editor kartikeya in conversation with Dr. Mila MitraCo Founder, STEM& SPACE , Former NASA Scientist

Spacepreneur Editor kartikeya in conversation with Dr. Mila MitraCo Founder, STEM& SPACE , Former NASA Scientist

by Editorial Staff
Spacepreneur Editor kartikeya in conversation with Dr. Mila Mitra Co Founder, STEM & SPACE , Former NASA Scientist

Can you brief us about your journey to our readers?

At STEM & Space, we recognize that STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) is a unique and increasingly popular educational concept – STEM is interdisciplinary, investigative, hands on learning and is the way of the future. Space and Astronomy has always excited people, and as a subject it contains all aspects of STEM and hence is called the “Mother of all sciences”, hence it is the perfect platform to engage in STEM.  It is essential to foster an interest in STEM at a young age. STEM & Space empowers schools, educators, and parents to engage young minds, ignite scientific curiosity, and foster a passion for space exploration through innovative programs, captivating platforms and engaging learning resources. With this concept, we started our journey about 5 years ago. With time, we have developed a bouquet of engaging products and platforms to interest schools as well as individuals. Our programs have now extended to all parts of India and also UAE. We partner with international collaborations such as International Astronomical Search Collaboration, Aldrin Foundation and Moon over Us, etc. We are now stem.org certified for STEM conduction and are registered space tutors with ISRO. We are also creating more online platforms, product kits, learning libraries etc to enable us to grown in scope and bring our products to all corners of India and also grow internationally as we believe all kids should have access to space.

Space Industry is evolving very rapidly in India and globally, what are the current Skills/Courses you are currently offering?

We aim to engage students from a very young age, grade 3 onwards and our products cater all the way to grade 10. Our products aim to learn about different aspects of STEM through topics in the space domain. We touch on topics in physics, math, geography, remote sensing, earth sciences etc. We build skills in space and astronomy such as learning about telescopes, understanding the night sky, using virtual telescopes, astronomy software and data analysis. We also build skills which are very relevant in STEM such as experimentation, investigation, computing, engineering. Model making, solving problems etc.

Some of our highlighted courses:

  • Observing with telescopes and learning about the night sky
  • Telescope making workshop
  • Celebrating Chandrayaan – 3
  • Light and Optics – Making a spectroscope
  • How satellites communicate – Data digitization
  • Topography
  • Giant Mars and Moon maps – to understand through an award winning hall sized map what the features are

Additionally, we engage students in project based learning:

  • Asteroid Search Campaign

 A month long project in collaboration with IASC (International Asteroid Search Campaign) and Pan Starrs Observatory where students get access to real telescope data of the sky and use software to look for asteroids. Several students have made real discoveries of asteroids in this project

  • Sally Ride EarthKAM

Students get the opportunity to participate in a program to select locations of geographical interest and request a camera onboard the International Space Station to get photographs of this location

Tell us something about the process of getting enrolled for Courses as Individuals & Schools?

We announce upcoming projects and workshops to a large set of schools in our database and provide information about the projects. Schools reach out to students and get registrations done and give us the lists of participants.

For individuals, we conduct social media campaigns and mailers for projects such as Asteroid Search campaign. 

We hold frequent webinars and engagements such as Kahoot bases quizzes and padlet challenges to attract the attention of students.

What are the challenges and opportunities you see in Indian space industry in next 5 Years?

With the recent successes of missions such as Chandrayaan 3 and Aditya-L1, the space industry is poised to boom in India. The Prime Minister has also proposed a roadmap targeting an Indian based space station and humans on the Moon. Correlated to this growth, we see possibilities of great interest in space education as space has caught the interest of students and the public.

This roadmap also indicates that the space economy in India will grow and career prospects in space and related industries will also see growth over the next 10 to 20 years. These future career possibilities will greatly interest the students of today and we believe there will be significant interest in gaining knowledge and acquiring skills which will make them ready for such futures.

What is your message to youngsters who wish to choose space industry as their Career?

India’s space industry is already at the threshold of tremendous growth. India has already achieved great stature internationally as a space power. The Prime Minister has proposed a roadmap whereby India will continue to grow rapidly in these fields, with several missions proposed including Gaganyaan, a mission to Venus, an Indian space station etc. We encourage all students to join us to learn about this exciting domain and imbibe skills which will help them embark on career paths related to this industry which is going to soar.

As a Space Tutor, what would you like to achieve in next 2 years? How ISRO is helping you & what kind of more implementations you expect from ISRO?

As a space tutor, we are really looking forward to tapping into the enthusiasm that people in India have developed towards space in recent years. We feel this momentum is going to grow. We aim to foster this interest in students and teach them the skills and knowledge that will put them along the correct pathway towards such careers in the future.

As an ISRO tutor, we will continuously strive to build such future ready skills. We also aim to continue our efforts in science outreach so that students are aware of current and future space missions and achievements.

ISRO has been providing us with outreach and educational material related to upcoming missions and we hope ISRO will continue to provide us with educational material. ISRO has also been organizing competitions and quizzes to promote upcoming missions and we aim to spread this far and wide and engage students associated with us in such national level competitions. Occasionally, ISRO holds workshops in space topics which are suitable for universities and high schools and we would greatly appreciate if such workshops would also be held for middle schools.

We have ourselves taken some students to ISRO at Trivandrum and would like the possibility of field trips to ISRO centers.

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