NASA challenges young minds in Western Visayas

ILOILO City – A nine-year-old boy from Bacolod City was the youngest among the participants in this year’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) space apps challenge here.

Allen Blauuw has offered his time and skills to be one of the minds aiming to address the challenges on Earth and space.       

“I was encouraged by my dad. I found the workshop interesting because I learned about NASA and space,” Blauuw said.

The United States (US) Embassy in the Philippines, with the Central Philippine University, has brought the NASA space apps challenge from Friday to Sunday. 

The NASA-led international “hackathon” is being conducted simultaneously in different cities in the world.

At his young age, Blauuw dreams of “becoming a programmer” and help develop applications useful for addressing problems on climate and the environment.

Matt Keener, Cultural Attaché of the US Embassy, said on Friday Iloilo was chosen to host the challenge as it is “investing in its youth in its science and technology and education.”

He added the NASA will provide data that “the challengers will work upon.”

“At the end of the event, they will come up with solutions, prototypes that they will present to a panel of judges. But the idea is really to teach them how to work collaboratively, how to really focus on using science and technology for problem-solving, applications to real-world challenges,” Keener said.

He added the winners of the NASA space apps challenge will get the chance to compete in the Global Apps Challenge with two selected teams in the city locations, saying that the winner of the said challenge in Iloilo will be announced on Sunday.

Keener said that the apps challenge was supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). 

Dr. Emelyn Flores, assistant regional director for technical operations of the DOST-6, said the challenge has opened the doors of science and technology to young people like Blauuw.

“At this stage, they will be aware of what is happening in our Earth and space. They will be encouraged to do research if they will encounter problems, they can come up with solutions,” Flores said.

“This is a part of our one-week celebration of Innovation Expo 2019 that will be more on technology and science week celebration,” she added.

Keener, meanwhile, said the support of the DOST for the NASA space apps challenge and its hosting of the Innovate Iloilo proved their commitment to preparing young minds for the future.

“I think the best way that we can do is to continue to invest in things like this, issues like this, to continue to invest in youth and its education and continue to develop the entire community,” added Keener.(With a report from PNA/PN)


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