Thursday, Nov. 21, 2014
Starry Success: Space Day 2014
at the University of New Orleans
At the inaugural University of New Orleans Space Day 2014, The Boeing Company unveiled
a model of the Space Launch System, which is currently being built at NASA's Michoud
Assembly Facility in New Orleans and is on track for the mission to Mars.
Out of this world!
The University of New Orleans welcomed approximately 150 students from New Orleans
area schools to campus on Thursday, to participate in Space Day 2014. The inaugural
event was designed to introduce youngsters to the joys and challenges — and especially
the importance of — science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) said Karen
Thomas, associate dean of STEM outreach, recruitment, and retention in the College
of Sciences. Seventh and 8th graders from St. Augustine, Archbishop Rummel, Edward
Hynes, Holy Cross, and Ursuline, came to UNO to enjoy hands-on activities based on
a theme of another dimension: Space.
"It was a nice day," said Travis Mumphrey, 14, of Rummel. "We did a lot of activities.
The space launch was one of my favorites."
For months, students, faculty and staff met weekly with representatives from the Boeing
Company, NASA, Jacobs Technology and the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing
(NCAM) to design the day focused on raising interest in STEM Studies, Thomas said.
The Colleges of Science and Engineering and the University's Office of Research and
Sponsored Programs coordinated the University's responsibilities.
They painstakingly created a logo and designed hands-on space-themed activities, said
College of Engineering Dean Kim Jovanovich. They even put together special T-Shirts
and swag bags emblazoned "UNO."
Inside the bright-blue-and-white bags were information handouts from NASA and Boeing
with information about the space center, hands-on experimental activities; on water
bottles bearing the University's name and logo.
"It was a really great collaboration, internally across campus and also with our external
partners," Thomas said.
A Warm Welcome
President Peter J. Fos welcomed the middle schoolers — potential future University
students — at 9:30 a.m. with a heartening talk about their value to the community.
Jovanovich followed up with an introduction to STEM. He used the analogy of a tree,
with science, technology, engineering and mathematics depicted as the roots of the
tree and the space launcher system as the tree's blooming foliage.
More than 30 students, faculty and staff, including 10 student mentors, helped to
deploy Thursday's event.
At a Look-and-Learn exhibit in the University Center, Boeing displayed a 1/50th scale
model of its Space Launch System (SLS) now in development, Thomas said.
To demonstrate thermal electric generation, Physics Professor Keving Stokes used a
$20 LED device to show students how they could produce light, using the warmth of
their hand. His presentation was "all about materials science, aspects of material
science," Thomas said. "It was great."
Student teams from each school took new names — Apollo, Curiosity, Explorer, Pioneer,
and Voyager — and in a fun-filled day, students rotated through three activities:
stomp rockets, the NASA planetary structure challenge and the space station docking
"We had to build a rocket with out team and see whose could go the farthest," Mumphrey
NASA's new Space Launch System, which is currently being built at the Michoud Assembly
Facility in New Orleans is on track for the mission to Mars. To demonstrate some of
the concepts involved, students were given every day materials, including recycled
cardboard paper towel rolls, empty 2-liter plastic soda bottles and PVC pipe, as well
as instructions and asked to build and launch a NASA subscale test rocket, Thomas
STEM teams recorded and analyzed data during the rocket test flight. At the end of
Space Day, students determined the best rocket design from each school for a final
test flight. They stomped on their self-created structures and measured the distance
of their flight.
"They were going up into the balcony. They were going all over the place," said Thomas.
"The kids really had a good time."
Rummel took home the trophy in the stomp rockets competition, with a collective distance
travelled of 389 inches.
NASA Challenge – Planetary Structure
NASA future space missions beyond low earth orbit require stronger and lighter materials
to enable transport and assembly of structures in space, said Thomas. Students received
every day materials — Scotch tape, marshmallows and dry spaghetti — and a challenge
to design and build a free standing planetary structural tower built to maximum height.
Ursuline won with a towering height of 26 inches.
Space Station Docking Simulator
"My favorite part was the dock where we blew up balloons," said Will Spears, 14, an
8th grader at St. Augustine. "If you touched it too close, you could blow up the space
station. We had to get an inch to the space station without blowing it up."
The docking operation at the International Space Station allows for crew rotation
and for the restocking of critical supplies and scientific experiments. Students received
more every day materials -- a balloon, string, and tape, and instructions to design
and build a propulsion system that travels the correct distance and speed for executing
the required docking sequence.
The experiment demanded blowing up a balloon and -- by blowing behind it through the
straw - sending it down the string. The team to arrive closest to the docking station
Jorge Ledo, director of the National Center of Advanced Manufacturing at the LSU College
of Engineering, headed up the experiment. It was thrilling, he said, "just to see
the kids use their thought processes and improving with each try at docking their
Ursuline got a perfect score, said Thomas.
Each participating school was invited to design a 20-inch by 30-inch one-sided poster
symbolizing Louisiana's contribution to the NASA Space Program. Participating schools
brought completed posters to Space Day to be judged by a panel including NASA program
directors, Boeing Company executives and deans at the University of New Orleans, Thomas
Hynes and Holy Cross students won the poster contest, Thomas said. They took home
trophy and will soon receive a professionally printed and framed poster to display
in school corridors. Copies will also hang at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility and
at the University of New Orleans campus.
"My favorite part of the day was when the kids were getting the awards," said Thomas.
"There was a lot of cheering going on. They were just so excited to win."
To cap off the fun, Ledo launched three entry level model rockets in the field next
to the Newman Center to close out the day