KASA: It’s Time to Say Goodbye

KASA is a unique initiative – it teaches the basics of space travel in 9 courses to young people preparing the learners for an amazing journey to discover future possibilities.

Since its inception, KASA has hosted STEM bootcamps for kids in Kibera and its environs, partnered with various organizations to provide learning opportunities for young learners, organized and hosted meetups and events targeted at the youth to discuss matters of science and education, and developed eLearning courses on its courses.

Over the last five (5) years, together with my very abled team members, I have led KASA to some notable successes. Of course, there have been a lot of challenges along the way. But we always managed to find solutions.

I’m super appreciative of the team. Big shoutouts to Adrian Schmidt and Neville Omangi who formed the core leadership team of KASA. Additional shoutouts go to Diana Atsula and Renice Owino for their unwavering support and the great enthusiasm they displayed. 

Our vision has been to inspire and coach the next generation of innovators and astronauts who we strongly believed would one day be among the first inhabitants of the red planet. By doing this, we purposed to encourage and assist young learners to dream big. Furthermore, we sought to create a pathway that they could use as a launchpad to actualize those dreams.

In addition, we knew that the project would improve learners’ access to job opportunities, assist them to get a better understanding of the challenges in their communities, and equip them with the right attitudes, skills, and mindsets to tackle those challenges.

As a founding member and team lead, I oversaw the project’s general growth, took part in the development of its first three (3) courses, and organized and hosted dozens of kids’ STEM bootcamps.

I also birthed the project’s monthly moral, science, and economics meetup sessions – which I dubbed “KASA Junto” drawing inspiration from Benjamin Franklin’s Leather Apron Club – with the aim of bringing together young like-minded people to discuss a broader list of topics that include the role of science in Africa’s development, capitalism & economic models, mental health, education systems, space exploration in Africa, and utopian Kenyan and African ideas.

Attendees of a KASA Junto meetup

Also, under my leadership, the project forged partnerships and collaborated with industry leaders such as the Kenya Space Agency, The Travelling Telescope, Space Generation Advisory Council, Africa Space Workshop, Amateur Astronomical Society of Kenya, Leo Sky Africa, and Model Mars, among others.

In April 2022, KASA partnered with Model Mars, an overseas organization that equips young learners with the knowledge, tools, and simulated learning environment they need to imagine, build, and represent communities on Mars while forging and sustaining connections with Earth. Through the partnership, 4 KASA learners built this carton-based futurist factory for food and clothes production on Mars. Find more about this amazing project via Mars Museum.

Although we didn’t fully achieve our grand goal, I see it appropriate to discontinue my involvement with the project. 

Attendees of a Yuri’s Night event that KASA hosted. The event was attended by aerospace university students, various space industry stakeholders (including Kenya Space Agency, Mars Society Kenya, Leo Sky Africa, Amateur Astronomical Society of Kenya, among others), university lecturers, and young learners.

One of my objectives in organizing and hosting events was to bring diverse groups of people to Kibera, a place less associated with space-related activities. I achieved this on multiple occasions, including by partnering with Leo Sky Africa to host a planetarium show in the neighborhood.

Among my best moments came during the bootcamp sessions: seeing kids learn how to operate computers for the first time progressing to learning how to create space-themed games with Scratch to eventually developing genuine love for astronomy. These were moments of pure happiness. And of course, I can’t forget to mention the joy I experienced in meeting Dr. Mae Jemison ?.

KASA kids learning and using MIT’s Scratch (free programming language used by kids to create stories, games, and animations) during KASA’s recently held bootcamp. The bootcamp training was sponsored by Nisha Ligon, co-founder of Ubongo.

One of my key lessons and achievement with the kids’ bootcamps was the importance of interactions among the neighborhood’s less-exposed kids with their counterparts from exposed and informed neighboring areas. Often, at the start of the sessions, less-exposed kids shied away from interacting with informed and exposed fellows who spoke good English and were well-dressed. However, as sessions proceeded, the former group loosened up and mingled with the latter group.

This type of peer-to-peer exchange was really important to me and I was always looking forward to seeing it happen (I often used this as a factor to consider when putting the kids in groups during sessions). Personally, I know the benefits of such exchanges and am proud of making it happen among KASA kids.

My love for space science (and STEM in general) hasn’t ceased even a little. I’m still an active participant in Kenya’s space education sector with great ideas and ambitions for making the industry the best in Africa.

As the river flows and carries with it my soul, I hope it gently drops me at the shore with fertile soils so I can sow the seeds I carry, and may the seedlings blossomly grow and produce other seeds.

By Melkizedek Mirasi

Lifelong learner.

2 comments

  1. I love the growth I see in you. I love the depth of your writing. Thank you for blessing us with your innovation. There’s only greatness to come from here. I applaud you my friend!

    1. Thank you so much, Winnie. Your coaching at ROCK definitely played a role in my leadership of KASA. Thank you so much for inspiring me. I’m so optimistic about the future – let’s wait and see how it manifests.

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