400 learners from schools across SA had the incredible experience of meeting former NASA astronaut, Dr Don Thomas, a veteran of 692 space orbits.


Johannesburg, South Africa – Nearly 400 Gauteng learners from schools such as Diepsloot and Rabasotho Combined Schools, Nooitgedacht Primary School and St Ansgars had the incredible experience of meeting former NASA astronaut, Dr Don Thomas, a veteran of 692 space orbits of the Earth.

21st Century learning specialist, I-Innovate hosted the exceptional event on the 2019 Living Maths Space Tour at the new Sakhikamva Foundation STREAM Lab facility at Lanseria Airport.

The learners enjoyed the life-changing opportunity to get in the same room with a bona fide spaceman, as well as the special appearance and introduction by a robot named Pepper. Dr Thomas is a man on a generous mission to inspire what he often refers to as the ‘Mars Generation’.

Becoming an astronaut is one of those aspirational careers that frequently features on the lists of children’s top dream jobs. Meeting Dr Thomas on his Space Tour brings the adventures of an astronaut out of the realms of books, TV shows and movies into their real-world experience.

He gives learners and parents a different perspective of the possibilities of the not so distant future, at the time when human travel to Mars tops the current space agenda.

To date, 533 humans have space-travelled like Don Thomas to reach Earth orbit; 3 other people completed a sub-orbital space flight, and only 12 astronauts have walked on the moon. (Of course, the life’s work of many, many thousands of others made this all possible.) With the incredible pace of modern technological change and disruption, the rarity of being an astronaut in space is set to change.

“We are delighted to be joining hands with Living Maths once again,” says I-Innovate CEO, Trisha Crookes.

“Meeting Don Thomas and learning about his extraordinary space adventures is an incredible opportunity to broaden horizons for learners across the country. The Sciences, Mathematics; these are subjects that open up the world for children and forge a lifelong link between what you learn and what you can accomplish in your life.”

I-Innovate, in partnership with sponsor, Tata Consultancy Services, included the learners from some of Gauteng’s most disadvantaged communities as an extension of their cutting-edge ExoLab education programme which enables learners in South Africa to conduct science experiments alongside researchers based on the International Space Station.

The STREAM Lab facility is a unique learning environment created in an airport hangar with a Boeing 747 airplane converted into a classroom and flight simulator.

Dedicated to providing world-class science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and mathematics programmes and hands-on learning opportunities, the STREAM LAB was the ideal venue for the children to meet an astronaut and make the connection between what they are learning at school and the inspiring work they may one day do in the world.

To learn more about I-Innovate, visit:

Sources: Press Release – Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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