Race to Space Science Supersedes Political Divisions

Rabat – Race to Space, a US Embassy-sponsored competition and summer camp, will announce its finalists in the upcoming days. The program invites Moroccan and Algerian teens to participate in a summer program known as Space Camp, which the website describes as “an interactive educational experience that brings theory to life through simulated training aboard the NASA Space Shuttle.” Of the 25 Moroccan and 25 Algerian students currently left in the running, only six from each country will be selected to attend the Advanced Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.The program is looking for high school students aged 15-18 who “excel in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics” and will award a scholarship covering all expenses. It applies to Moroccan and Algerian citizens only, excluding dual US citizens. In addition to high academic standing in subjects related to astronomy, students are expected to have strong English language skills, as the program will take place entirely in English. The final 12 participants (six from each nation) will be revealed on June 24th after completing face-to-face interviews with the judges. As part of the application process, each student created a three-minute video explaining complex astronomical concepts in layman’s terms. They tackled time, gravity, and the Northern Lights among other topics to educate the viewer on the forces shaping our world.Among the program’s sponsors are the Scientific Morocco Association, the Sirius Astronomy Association, the US Embassy in Morocco, and the US Embassy in Algeria. The website also states that “priority will be given to nominees with no previous experience in the United States.” This reveals another purpose of this program: improving cross-cultural understanding.Despite recent diplomatic hurdles with the United States, and the long-standing misunderstanding between Morocco and Algeria, some of the brightest minds of both nations’ youth will come together for intensive scientific training. Not only will student participants be leaders in the scientific communities of their native countries, they will also have a more accurate perception of America and their regional neighbor. Such efforts demonstrate a unity which supersedes political squabbles through a joint effort to improve human knowledge.

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