Journalist, Diplomat, Entrepreneur & Author

Cubes in Space

Senator Wallin’s Statement on Cubes in Space – 6 June 2017

Honourable senators, today I’d like to tell you about Cubes in Space, and I mean this quite literally, small 4x4x4 centimetre cubes that will be aboard a NASA rocket on June 22.

At Lockheed Martin Canada’s Space Inspiration Day at their IMPACT Centre in Kanata, we met Story Musgrave, a 30-year NASA astronaut who has been aboard six space flights. His life is reflective of his name — Story — as he was building rafts by 5, driving trucks by 10, didn’t finish school, ran off to Korea with the U.S. Marines, but over the next 55 years he accumulated 7 graduate degrees in the pursuit of becoming an astronaut. He truly enthralled the more than 50 primary and secondary students from the National Capital Region with his tale of being the ‘‘accidental astronaut.’’ His message to students: ‘‘being a geek is a good thing.’’

These students were part of a hands-on engineering challenge to design a system to fit into one of those tiny cubes that would actually protect a delicate scientific sample during violent space flight conditions, aboard a rocket, of course.

The students were given a set of materials and requirements and then had to present their design to the entire group by the end of the day. Each of the 16 groups had such a unique design that Lockheed Martin and Cubes in Space decided to launch all of them. You can imagine the reaction of the students. I think it could have been heard in outer space.

At the end of the day, one young lady came up and admitted she had not at all been interested in science prior to that day. She just showed up because the class was doing it. She said now she can’t wait to get back to science. And that, of course, is the goal. Science, technology, engineering, arts and math, often referred to as ‘‘STEAM,’’ will define the world of tomorrow for our youth because they are the fuel for innovation and discovery and they will be the key drivers of progress and prosperity.

Companies such as idoodledu inc. and its Cubes in Space program help students embrace their curiosity and imagination while actually experiencing the joy of learning something new. The program has grown to operate in 57 countries, of course including this one. It offers students unprecedented opportunities to develop logical, methodical and creative solutions to problems and it demonstrates that connection between what we learn in school and its real-life application. I’m sure we can all remember asking ourselves, ‘‘What in the world will algebra or calculus really apply to in my life?’’

I want to congratulate both the Cubes in Space program and all of the winners whose experiments will now be sent to space later this month. STEAM-oriented programs are inspiring the next generation of innovators and leaders here in Canada.