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Illinois Space Day

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Date(s) - 05/10/2019
8:00 am - 3:30 pm

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Digital Computer Lab

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ISD is a free, annual educational outreach event hosted by the Illinois Space Society (ISS) at the University of Illinois. Each year we host a keynote speaker, interactive competitions, and science demonstrations including liquid nitrogen and space shuttle tile demos! This event is organized to educate students K-8 on Space Exploration and STEM topics. The event is a day long once a year activity with a total attendance of around 200 people.

Notable examples of the many exhibits at ISD include liquid nitrogen experiments, space shuttle tile demonstrations, and an egg drop competition. The liquid nitrogen and space shuttle tile exhibits demonstrate the temperature extremes of space, while the egg drop competition teaches concepts like drag and offers a more hands-on experience for younger attendees. In the liquid nitrogen presentation, pennies, marshmallows, flowers, and balloons will all be frozen and displayed to the audience. For the space shuttle tile, the thermal capabilities of certain composites required for atmospheric reentry will be shown by using a blowtorch to heat the tile. The attendees get to use a thermometer to verify the extreme temperatures from a safe distance, while also observing the presenters holding the tile in a gloved hand to display its insulating capabilities. The egg drop demonstration allows children to build their own capsules in varying fashions with the goal of keeping an egg from breaking from a three story drop. This demonstrates why parachutes are used in rocket launches by introducing participants to the concept of drag. In addition to ISS, around eight other student led organizations hold exhibits during the event. These organizations speak about their experience in various aerospace-related topics such as satellite development, high powered rocketry, astronomy, robotics, and aerodynamics of vehicles. The exhibits generally show families the simple science behind concepts like temperatures, aerodynamics, gravity, drag, and balance.

In addition to the various science exhibits at ISD, each year a professional in the aerospace industry is also asked to speak at the event. The speakers tailor their presentation to a younger crowd, with the goal of fostering an interest in space and science in general. Previous speakers have included recent graduates employed at Ball Aerospace and United Launch Alliance, and this year the team is again looking to request a previous member of the university or ISS to speak at the event. This is in hopes that the speaker will be comfortable at both the event and on campus.The goal of the presentation is to enthrall and educate each child who attends, thus requiring the topic to be both interesting and easy to understand; a speaker who has previous knowledge of the event will account for this appropriately.

By speaking with college-aged participants, children can be exposed to ideas not only involving space exploration, but also how they can make a difference as students. The children and families that attend often return in subsequent years to expand their understanding of space and also see the newest exhibits. Illinois Space Day is ISS’s premier annual educational outreach event, and attendance has continued to grow over the last several years.

This year ISD will be held on Saturday October 5th, 2019, from 8:00AM – 3:30PM at the Digital Computer Laboratory. If you have any questions or would like to register, please contact or visit our website – Registration closes Saturday, August 31st 2019. We hope to see you in October!

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