Illinois Space Day: Reaching the Stars and the Community


An Iss member demonstrates the use of a nosecone for a high-power rocket.
An Iss member demonstrates the use of a nosecone for a high-power rocket.
About 100 students from the Champaign-Urbana area are expected to gather with their parents at the University of Illinois on Saturday, October 7, for an annual crash course on exploring the universe.

The Illinois Space Society (ISS), a Registered Student Organization working closely with the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Illinois, will host Illinois Space Day from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Each year during the fall semester, ISS hosts the free public event to intrigue and educate students from kindergarten through 12th grade on the basics of space exploration and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. ISS uses the educational outreach initiative to create a network of space supporters in the area surrounding the Urbana campus.

This year, the event will be hosted in the Digital Computer Laboratory, 1304 W. Springfield Ave., and will be facilitated with the help of society members and other student organizations including Women in Aerospace, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Student Space Systems, and others. Participants will be introduced to a variety of aerospace topics through demonstrations and exhibits, and all attendees will receive a complimentary lunch. Exhibits include telescope fundamentals, liquid nitrogen, a Space Shuttle tile, LEGO space habitats, an orbital simulator, and more! Participating students will be able to dive into the activities and get hands on experience with STEM topics.

Dr. Erik Kroeker, a 2017 finalist among the top 17 astronaut candidates for the Canadian Space Agency, will deliver the keynote talk. Kroeker earned two degrees from Aerospace Engineering at Illinois: a master’s in 2009 and a PhD in 2017.

Elena Kamis, ISS Educational Outreach Director, led in organizing Illinois Space Day, designed to incorporate all ages and interests.

“Giving someone the opportunity to find their passion for the rest of their lives is priceless, and I wanted to be the person who created those moments for others,” Kamis said. “Our astronauts, pilots, and scientists who explore the universe and our world today were at one time the kids we are now trying to reach.”

General registration closes Wednesday, October 4, and includes a free lunch as well as participation in the entire day’s activities. Registration can be accessed on the front page of the ISS webpage, or by using the following QR code: