King David Victory Park Primary School invited a former Nasa astronaut to tell learners they can reach the stars if they pursue maths and science.
Dr Don Thomas spent seven years at Nasa and logged more than 1 040 hours of space adventures during his four shuttle missions.
His first trip in 1994 set a flight duration record.
King David was one of two schools in Gauteng Thomas visited where he told the story of how he got accepted into a Nasa astronaut programme after being rejected three times.
Thomas said being rejected didn’t deter him and after the third rejection, he researched all the criteria Nasa took into account when recruiting contenders into the programme and developed skills they wanted so he could get in.
He encouraged the children to dream big when it came to maths and science and to work hard in the two subjects.
“I was an average learner. I had to work twice as hard at school,” Thomas said in an interview with Northcliff Melville Times.
Thomas’ visit was part of the Living Maths Space Tour 2017. Living Maths is a non-governmental organisation that seeks to promote maths and science as well as careers linked to the two subjects.
Living Maths chief imagination officer, Steve Sherman, said the organisation was all about putting the fun back into maths and science.
He added that they did so by showing schoolchildren practical examples of maths and what could happen if one pursues it.
Thomas agreed to be part of this year’s tour because only 550 people have had the opportunity to go to space and he felt it was his duty to share his experience. He also said he was vested in promoting space travel as he wished to see humans set foot on mars in future.
“Man has been to the moon and to space and the next mission to mars will most probably be undertaken by this generation and could very likely be one of the children sitting in this hall,” Thomas said.