Miri teen, one of five Nasa winners


  • Education
  • Sunday, 02 Jun 2019

Wei Rui (right) poses with his teacher Teo as he shows off his winning patch design.

A TEENAGER from Miri, Sarawak, SM Pei Min Form One student Teng Wei Rui, 13, was selected by Nasa as one of the five winners from nearly 10,000 submitted entries from students around the world, in the international Mission Patch Design Challenge 2019.

Tynker, which enables kids to use code to become makers, announced that Nasa experts selected five student winners of the “Forward to the Moon Mission Patch Design Challenge”.

The other winners are Ishhaq Ziyam (sixth grade) from Colombo, Sri Lanka; and from the United States, Neal Apte (third grade) from Palo Alto, California; Madison Morgan (eighth grade) from Lewiston, Idaho; and Paxton Summers (third grade) from Baltimore, Maryland.

“Nasa is going to the moon in 2024, and then on to Mars in a sustainable way.

“To achieve our mission, we need the next generation of STEM students to join us,” said Nasa’s associate administrator for the Office of STEM Engagement Mike Kincaid in a statement He said this collaboration with Tynker will inspire students in STEM to be a large part of its future to the moon and Mars.

The Mission Patch Design Challenge saw close to 10,000 design submissions from around the world, with Nasa experts evaluating each finalist’s project based on originality, execution and effective use of code.

Tynker vice president of Educator Programmes Kaustav Mitra said each patch tells a unique story and impressed the judges in different ways.

“It was difficult to select our five winners. We are thrilled with the results and hope that this first challenge has inspired a new generation of kids to learn more about space missions, Nasa and the impact that makers have on space exploration.” he said.

Wei Rui took up coding lessons last October with Realfun Learning Centre, a coding centre that collaborated with Nasa on the mission patch competition.

He was surprised and happy as he didn’t think he’d win the competition.

“I’m very proud to have brought honour to my country, state and school.

“The video conference with a Nasa expert was good; I told him about my ambition to become an astronaut and asked him for advice,” he said, adding that he plans to take part in the upcoming competition in September.

Wei Rui’s teacher from the centre, Teo Yuang Teck, said it is great to see how much he has achieved in a short period of time.

“He took about two days to design this patch, and even hugged his laptop when he went to bed!” he said.

The teenager has always shown an interest in electronics, robotics and coding, Teo added.

The competition was launched on April 29 and was conducted online.

Students from the centre who participated were briefed about Nasa, its missions and  asked to do their own research on the agency.

“Wei Rui’s first design crashed due to his computer, causing all his work to disappear.

“He restarted the entire project but unfortunately, because he created it differently the second time, it didn’t qualify for submission,” Teo said.

Third time’s the charm and this proved true for Wei Rui who submitted his design in the nick of time on the last day of the submission.

“Wei Rui’s win feels like a dream come true.

“As a teacher, I feel proud to be able to empower children to make an impact in the world.

“I hope more children will follow in his footsteps and learn how to create apps themselves and put their name on the world map,” Teo said.

The winners had a video chat with a Nasa expert and were invited to ask any questions about Nasa, its work and space travel.

The chats were scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 10 mission.

The Design A Mission Patch project is the first of three planned “Moon2Mars” coding challenges being released this year by Tynker in collaboration with Nasa, taking students on journeys from earth to the moon and then on to Mars.

For this first challenge, students put themselves in an astronaut’s space boots and used Tynker to code patches for their imaginary spacesuits.

Since 1965, every mission to space has had its own design created by the astronauts who journey to space.

The mission patch is a set of symbols, words and pictures that represent the work the astronauts will do during the mission and it tells the story of their journey.

Designing the mission patch is one of the very first things every new astronaut crew does.

For the Forward to the Moon Mission Patch Design Challenge, students were asked to imagine that they are an astronaut who is taking an incredible journey to the moon.

The next challenges will be released in September and October.


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