Among all the activities at this year’s Purdue Space Day, former astronaut José Hernandez will speak about the process of becoming an astronaut as well as his experiences, including his 13-day mission on the International Space Station in 2009.
On Saturday morning, elementary and middle school students will be separated into different groups based on age before starting the activities.
One of the activities will be a satellite launch, according to PSD director of activities and junior in the College of Engineering Kenny Pritchard. The kids start out by designing balloon-powered missiles that they fill with supplies. Volunteers then stand on the catwalks in the atrium of Armstrong Hall while dangling down fishing lines. The kids then try to launch their missiles up the fishing lines.
“(It’s) as if they’re trying to build a satellite in orbit, so they’ll build a little container out of the materials we give them, and they have requirements that they have to get, like a certain amount of toothpicks and cotton balls,” Pritchard said.
This event is made possible with the help of volunteers. Pritchard, who was a volunteer his freshman year, said some are group leaders for activities while others do mission control, the logistics of the events. There is a lot of preparation for this day, with planning starting as soon as the previous Space Day ends.
Pritchard said that in 1996 when the event first started, there were only about 40 volunteers and 100 participants.
This year, Pritchard said that 965 kids signed up along with over 400 volunteers, making this year’s event the biggest Purdue Space Day yet.
“The coolest part of Space Day, in my opinion, is the astronaut that comes out every year,” Pritchard said.
Over the phone, Hernandez said his advice to younger kids would be to value perseverance and improvement of one’s self.
“Don’t be afraid to dream big as long as you’re willing to work hard to turn that dream into a reality,” Hernandez said.