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SSP22 Blog – Week 2 (onsite)

The second week of the Space Studies Program (SSP) 2022 brought participants and staff several exciting activities, full of challenges, and a true passion for space exploration and self-development.   

It is time to build the Rube-Goldberg machine and test yourself 

Scientific knowledge and engineering skills are crucial to create efficient and reliable devices, and the SSP22 participants helped us to demonstrate this during Week 2 of the program. The Rube-Goldberg workshop is a team-building activity, in which the creativity and the ingenuity of each participant had the chance to be revealed. Moreover, engineering and management skills became critical to the completion of this task. Participants were divided into 12 groups, and each of them was assigned to a section of the machine.  The workshop was conducted by Paolo Nespoli, who served as an European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut for more than 20 years (1998-2019). His experience and the lessons learned from his time as astronaut, shared during the initial phase of the workshop, had a terrific value for the design and assembly of the machine. Here is a short video that summarizes the workshop.

Experience the Metaverse 

Technology development triggers human imagination all over the world, including Virtual Reality! The SSP22 participants had the opportunity to experience the virtual world and discover how it coexists with the real world on a scale which had never been observed before. One can say that science-fiction is becoming reality and educational tools available for all of us are gaining a new dimension and an even higher level of detail. We are living in a very dynamic world, full of new and old challenges, that we can address thanks to modern technologies. Here are a few pictures from a hands-on experience session available to our participants.      

Meet and talk with celebrities from the space world 

The unique value of the program comes also from our evening activities, which are open to the public. Last week, we had the pleasure to listen and talk to people who are famous due to their contributions both to science and the cultural domain. Professor Jeffrey Hoffman (ex-NASA) and engineer Paolo Nespoli (ex-ESA) are astronauts with vast experience in space. They have shared with us both positive and negative aspects of their astronaut lives, their everyday struggles, as well as bright moments of their careers, which still is a dream for many.     
A great cultural addition to our evening gatherings was a retrospective visit to the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”, from 1968, which nowadays is considered one of the most important science-fiction movies of all times. It was a rich discussion between James Green (former NASA Chief Scientist) and Michael Benson (filmmaker and writer, author of the book “Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece”, who helped us dive deep into the vision of a future in which the artificial intelligence and humans are exploring our solar system. This masterpiece constantly inspires the next generations of artists, engineers, and scientists, and it was brought to us by two famous artists – writer Arthur C. Clarke and film director and producer Stanley Kubrick.

#1 Culture Night 

An international and intercultural aspect of SSP makes this program a genuinely wonderful experience for all of us. Our #1 Cultural Night events are a notable example of how joyful getting to know each other can be.  This week, we all had a great occasion to learn curiosities related to the roots of our friends from Estonia, Canada, and Portugal (our hosts).
It was a fruitful week, full of intellectual and physical challenges, that lack of sleep cannot stop any of us from moving toward our space dreams. 

Jedrzej Gorski
Teaching Associate, On-site, Engineering Department, SSP2022