A Kumon Completer takes part in Space School with NASA

Aug 2020

Marcus, a Grade 11 student at the George Kumon Centre, has already accomplished two amazing things this year. He completed the Kumon Maths Programme in July 2020, finishing his last few books during lockdown, which is an amazing achievement! He has also been selected to attend an academic Summer Camp at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Houston, America.

Marcus is one of three teenagers selected from Africa (two from SA and one from Namibia). The trip was originally planned for the end of July 2020, but due to the pandemic, has been postponed to 2021. However, the Space School hosted a virtual workshop in July/August 2020 which Marcus attended.

Marcus would like to be an Astronautical Engineer one day – with the more familiar term being: rocket scientist. Astronautical Engineering is a large field according to Marcus, which includes subfields that one can specialise in. He would like to specialise in developing and creating the systems that are utilised on the spacecrafts, and this involves being able to do mathematics and programming.

For both the virtual Space School and his trip to NASA next year, Marcus would like to learn as much as possible about the environment that he is interested in, and be able to experience all the different aspects of being an Aerospace Engineer. He believes that this will give him good insight as to what his future career will entail.

Having had an interest in everything to do with space since he was very young, Marcus read about Elon Musk in the news. What he read, in particular about his two companies Tesla and SpaceX, interested him so much that he decided to read Elon Musk’s autobiography. Marcus applied for the Space School in January 2020, and after meeting all the criteria, was fortunate enough to be selected. Elon Musk remains Marcus’ greatest inspiration and motivation, as he shares similar interests and has done so well in his field.

The journey for Marcus to become an Astronautical Engineer will start with completing a mechanical engineering degree, and then move on to completing a postgraduate degree in aerospace engineering. At the moment, Marcus plans to possibly apply at the University of Stellenbosch for his undergraduate studies, but would also like to apply at Caltech (University of Technology in California) as they are experts in the field of Aerospace Engineering.  Marcus is hoping that after a year or two of studying at the University of Stellenbosch he will be fortunate enough to obtain a bursary to finish his studies at Caltech.

Lockdown has not been too much of a challenge for Marcus. He is very self-motivated and did not find it too challenging to complete either his school work or his Kumon worksheets. His Grade 11 studies are going well, and he is feeling very positive about matric next year.

Marcus loves Maths, and this is a great motivator for why he wanted to complete the whole programme. He enjoys being able to show people many ways of doing one sum. He says this is so because Kumon has helped him to understand a sum at its core. Marcus believes that doing Kumon on a daily basis, even during holidays, keeps your mind fit. Kumon has not only helped him with his Maths, but his overall outlook on how to approach questions in all subjects has changed. Marcus has already started studying engineering Maths in preparation for his career path. He is enjoying this class as he is learning the details about technical Maths.

In terms of his Kumon studies, he experienced the first part of the programme as his least favourite as it involved a lot of writing and repetition, but does admit that this part was necessary as it laid the building blocks for completing the last few levels. He enjoyed the last few levels the most, as they were challenging and also rewarding. His advice to other Kumon students is to do your Kumon worksheets daily, and to complete the programme.

Marcus loves hiking and mountain biking with his friends. He also loves Formula 1 Racing, with his favourite driver and team being Max Verstappen who drives for Red Bull. Marcus is an avid reader and enjoys reading about Science Fiction, adventure as well as autobiographies.

Marcus’ parents heard about Kumon from a friend, and enrolled Marcus when he was in Grade 3 because they believed that Maths is a skill for life. They say that Kumon has provided Marcus with confidence to be able to do Maths, and to know that he is able to solve any Maths problem. In the beginning, they used to mark Marcus’ books for him, and had to motivate him to complete his work. After a few years this changed as they saw his passion for Maths, and realised that he was then self-motivated.

Marcus’ parents advise and encourage other Kumon parents to keep motivating their children, and for themselves and their children not to quit.

Marcus, in your case, the sky is your floor and space is your limit. We are very excited with you as you embark on this journey of fulfilling your dream, and we are proud of what you have accomplished thus far.