14 Dec, 2021
10 : 00
YCIS students were transformed into excited young scientists of tomorrow during a unique ‘Tiangong lecture’ delivered live from space by Shenzhou-13 astronauts, Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu. The event, on 9 December marked the first time the Tiangong space station became a makeshift classroom for students across Hong Kong and China.
A group of 10 YCIS students, along with participants from other schools, sat in on this live encounter, taking part in experiments and discussions focused on space exploration.
Organised by the China Manned Space Agency, the Chinese Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the China Association for Science and Technology, and the China Media Group, the Shenzhou-13 crew members gave students insights into their living and working conditions, including treadmill demonstrations and sipping recycled water.
The ‘taikonauts’ (as they are termed in China) performed cytological (single cell) experiments and observed objects in motion, liquid surface tension, and other phenomena in a gravity-free environment.
The assembled students carefully followed their instructions to conduct experiments including observing bubbles in water and dissolving a fizzy tablet in a zero gravity setting.
At the event were our YCIS students Yvonne Wen and Johanna Wrobel, both elated at the opportunity to interact live with astronauts.
“The advance preparations and then the questions during the event, were a steep learning curve for us,” says Johanna.
“I was intrigued by this lesson,” added Yvonne. “Our school has offered many science-related events that have allowed me to explore this subject in more detail.”
Hugo Cheung, another space watcher, said he has paid close attention to the establishment of the Chinese space station and related news. “I think these technological breakthroughs could help the general public discover more about the unknown,” he said.
Hugo has been a YCIS Hong Kong student representative several times, including at the ‘out-of-this-world conversation’ （click to read more) with taikonauts in September, and for the interaction with Professor Ouyang Ziyuan who arrived as a hologram for the November event, ‘The Dream of Terraforming Mars into a Blue Planet” (click to read more).
“We hope to connect students with science through various initiatives and motivate them to learn more about the thriving Chinese space exploration programme,” said Ms Sam Sze, Co-Principal of YCIS Hong Kong, Secondary, who accompanied the students.
“Teachers of different year levels made really good use of this opportunity and conducted various experiments with students in a bid to encourage them to discover more,” she added.
The youth-focused ‘Tiangong Classroom’ adopted a collaborative and interactive approach, with the primary classroom located in the China Science and Technology Museum, along with four other venues set up in Hong Kong, Macau, Nanning in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and Wenchuan county in Sichuan.
It was a fantastic opportunity to observe science in action up close for our students from YCIS Hong Kong, YCIS Shanghai Puxi and Pudong, YCIS Qingdao, YWIES Tongxiang, YWIES Shanghai Lingang, YWIES Shanghai Gubei and YWIES Guangzhou.
“Our students have been afforded the opportunity to plant space seeds on the school’s roof terrace and observe the difference between the Earth’s vegetation and plants growing up in space,” said Mrs Caroline Jennings, the Assistant Learning Programme Leader of Science at YCIS Hong Kong.
This was coordinated by a YCIS alumus and gained a nod from the UNESCO Hong Kong Association.
The ‘Tiangong Classroom’ was another important lesson added to our students’ STEM learning pathway.
Zhai Zhi gang, commander of the Shenzhou-13 mission, concluded the session with a pat on the back and encouragement for all. “The possibilities of space and science are boundless, and the future is yours,” he said.