Space Day returns to Riverside for 15th year

RIVERSIDE – Nearly 1,600 students from Jefferson, Madison, Emerson, and Longfellow Elementary Schools recently spent the day learning how environmental scientists and aeronautical engineers use science and math to explore space and protect the environment during the 15th annual Space Day – “Exploring Our Planet – Today and Tomorrow,” sponsored by Lockheed Martin.
This year’s Space Day, held at Riverside’s Jefferson Elementary School, offered students the opportunity to experience and participate in more than 50 hands-on activity stations with space exploration and environmental related themes.
Students from each elementary school also participated in an essay contest; this year’s theme was “Why is it important to study math, science and engineering?” The essay contest winners were honored during an awards ceremony with certificates and a backpack of gifts courtesy of Lockheed Martin.
Mayor Rusty Bailey presented Maria Ortega, principal at Jefferson Elementary School, with a Mayoral Proclamation naming April 19, 2013, the City of Riverside’s official “Space Day.”
“Space Day is one of my favorite days as an educator because of the opportunity it provides our students to see math and science at work while participating in hands-on activities,” said Ortega. “The students are able to apply their learning while engaging with professionals who work in these fields every day.”
Over the course of six hours, activity stations provided students with unique, first-hand learning opportunities as they experienced the beauty and magic of the stars in a miniature planetarium, learned about aerodynamics and airfoils by operating a radio-controlled helicopter, and felt momentum as they floated on a cushion of air 1/4 inch off the ground on a hovercraft. They explored how to clean up water and soil, the importance of recycling, and learned ways they can personally help protect the environment. The students witnessed rocketry demonstrations and student-designed robotic technology, learned about fire trucks and traffic reconstruction from their local fire and police departments, and participated in numerous activities provided by The Traveling Space Museum.
Keynote Speaker George Noory, well-known host of the internationally syndicated program Coast to Coast AM and the new TV series Beyond Belief with George Noory,, presented an inspiring and engaging presentation to students on the importance of learning math, science and technology and always being curious so they could become lifelong learners.
Noory told the students that when he was about their age, he had an experience that made him want to learn as much as he could about many different things. “Learning has become a lifelong, fun experience for me and I still enjoy learning something new every day. In my job as a radio host, I talk to people about the ways they are protecting our planet and cleaning up our environment. I see and hear about the latest science experiments underway to reach new solar systems and discover new planets. I learn about government, history, technology, math and engineering. I hear what others think our world will be like years from now and what it might have been like in the past,” said Noory.
He challenged the youngsters to always be curious, ask questions, seek answers and find their own truth.
Lockheed Martin recognizes a growing need for engineers and scientists to maintain competitiveness in a global marketplace. Space Day provides the catalyst for students to see first-hand the numerous possibilities available to their futures.
“We’re delighted to continue our partnership with the Riverside Unified School District and local elementary schools to offer students this unique type of learning experience,” said Gary Cambre, Lockheed Martin Senior Communications Manager for Energy, Environment, Safety and Health.
“Today’s students will guide our future as they become environmental scientists, mathematicians, astronauts, engineers and computer programmers. Our objective is to inspire them to achieve their goals by demonstrating the importance of learning math and science and continuing their education through high school, college and beyond.”
Space Day was an outstanding success because of the assistance of the many volunteers who host activity stations and establish the important connection between learning and doing.
Corporate volunteers included Lockheed Martin, AECOM, CDM Smith, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Knott & Glazier, Tetra Tech, and NASA Deep Space Network. Among the many volunteers from local organizations who also attended and hosted activity stations included: Riverside Astronomical Society, University of California, Riverside – Society of Women Engineers, Robotics Team: Robokong, Robotics Team: 2404 NEY Techs, Team 980, Pet Prescription Team, Solar System Ambassadors, St. Edward School (Corona), The Naval Surface Warfare Center, University of California, Riverside – Biomedical Engineering Society, Quest for the Stars, and Hidden Valley Nature Center.
The first Riverside Space Day took place at Grant Elementary School in 1999 with 370 students and nine activity stations. The program has since quadrupled in size – this year includes nearly 1,600 students from four local elementary schools and more than 50 activity stations.