A Chemistry teacher from The Regent College, Abuja, Jamiu Aliyu, has won the space academy award in the United States, after writing essays for six consecutive years.
Aliyu was the only Nigerian and one of two Africans among 119 educators across the globe to win the 2018 Honeywell Educators at Space Academy scholarship in United States Space and Rocket Centre Huntsville Alabama. He won the scholarship to represent Nigeria after writing applications for six years.
In 2017, the fifth year of his application, the assessors had written back a letter to Aliyu expressing regret for their inability to offer him a place in the HESA programme for that year and placed him on their waiting list.
Speaking on that experience, he said, “I waited but nothing happened. I did not get discouraged. If there is any lesson in this, it is never to give up your goals although you may need to change your strategies.
“If your goals are big enough, they must scare you. If it is going to be, then it is up to you. I found my place in space.”
But in 2018, Aliyu’s story changed as he was selected for this year’s programme.
Advising other teachers aspiring to participate in such a programme, he said, “Can you imagine what learning will be in your classroom teaching your students how to make alien toothpaste? Fun, I guess?
“Can you imagine what school will be to your students if there is opportunity for them to test their own hypothesis?
“Can you imagine if our students are given opportunity to make mistakes by going through an Engineering Design Process of Building-Testing-Improving phenomenon?
“Can you imagine a classroom where students can find their place in space? They are not limited by race, religion, location, and any other self-limiting factors.
“Please imagine a classroom where students forget their differences, leverage on the strengths of each other, celebrate togetherness, see opportunities in their diversity and working for a mission where everyone realises his or her own destiny.
“Okay, stop the imagination now; these are my realities in the Honeywell Educators at Space Academy programme. I became a student and enjoyed what learning means.”
“Perhaps you are ready for this adventure, start your transformation right now in your classroom and start preparing for your own scholarship.
“It does not matter what subject you teach, you can turn your classroom into a learning space for the future scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians among them. A great teacher inspires.”
“I think it is time to tell our own stories of how we have failed in several ways to our own students. Let them know that I failed six times applying for a scholarship that gave birth to this article”, he added.
Having garnered valuable experience in the course of the programme in the Space Academy in the United States Space and Rocket Centre, Huntsville, Alabama, Aliyu said he is prepared to give back to humanity.
He said, “I have two missions in the next 365 days as a way of ‘giving back’ and appreciating God for this opportunity.
“One, is to enrich 5000 teachers with the innovative learning techniques through hands-on training and two, is to establish STEM Mission for upper primary and secondary school students.
“This offer is open to schools counting from the day of this publication. All teachers in school can have the training together and can contact me through my mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.”