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Medical Student in Egypt Spreads the Excitement of Space Exploration

By Yumna Majeed

STEM-themed education platforms are becoming a new trend around the world and it’s helping pave a new road of opportunities for both teachers and students.

Teaching technology, engineering, and mathematics by using fresh and innovative methods are making it easier for kids to develop an interest in the sciences. Star Letters in on a mission to find STEM stars all around the globe and tell their stores.

We are starting our STEM series from the land of pharaohs, the origin of many sciences and birthplace of various Muslim scientists, Egypt.

Mohammad Gamal Shehata belongs to a village of Kafr El Sheikh in the north coast of Egypt. He is a medical student and surgical trainee who is working hard in his community to increase space awareness. In his early childhood, Gamal’s father gifted him astronomy and space exploration books that sparked his curiosity. He was amazed to see the pictures of rockets and planets and he became excited to learn more about them.

Mohammad is thankful to his parents for introducing him to the wonderful universe beyond our Pale Blue Dot.

On managing his studies and passion together, Mohammad said that his mornings are for studies and nights are for star gazing. But still, he finds it difficult to manage it due to a tough examination schedule. Mohammad wants to promote astronomy in his community and wants people (especially kids) to fall in love with the cosmic beauty.

Egyptian cultural and political barriers make it unfortunate for him to spread the cosmic version of nature among fellow citizens. Gamal lives in a village within a district that is far away from the major cities of Egypt that are more metropolitan. This distance acts as a barrier as well.

Mohammad owns a telescope but has difficulty using it in public places for star parties. He tries his best to create awareness by showing his astrophotography to friends, neighbors, and strangers but he gets unsavory comments like “You are mad” or “These images are fake”.

But he keeps his spirits high and doesn’t give up.

Lunar Eclipse June 27th, photo by Mohammad Gamal

Mohammad believes that kids are pure and haven’t yet been exposed to the more ignorant trends of the modern era. Kids, he says, wonder how things work and when introduced to astronomy, become super excited. This is the reason he has planned to initiate school outreach campaign & solar observation via telescope but without a solar filter, he is unable to do that. And Night sky observations at schools are not possible. Mohammed realizes that he needs to find more resources to educate.

Mohammad aims to joins NASA one day as a physician/ doctor. His dream is to be on board with other astronauts to keep them healthy in microgravity.

The author of this post is Yumna Majeed, a STEM educator and med student in Pakistan. Please read her story in Star Letters: https://www.starletters.com/2018/03/30/med-student-attempting-stem-outreach-pakistan/

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