Educational Outreach

The Illinois Space Society strives to give back to the community as often as possible. Our society’s largest engineering outreach day is Illinois Space Day, held usually every spring, but has been moved to the fall for 2016. For Illinois Space Day we invite a variety of elementary and middle school students to come and visit campus, and experience space-related exhibits. Some of these include:

  • Space Shuttle Tile & Liquid Nitrogen – This exhibit demonstrates space shuttle tile and the physics and challenges of re-entry heating, as well as extreme cooling with liquid nitrogen. Demos include freezing and smashing a flower and a penny, observing the contraction of a frozen balloon, and eating frozen marshmallows.
  • Hybrid Rocket Engine – This exhibit demonstrates the basic principles of a combustion rocket engine.
  • Orbital Simulator – This exhibit demonstrates the physics behind gravitational orbits and allow students to get hands-on understanding by attempting to place their “satellite” (a marble) in orbit.
  • Illinois Space Society and other Aerospace Engineering Student Organization Technical Projects.

We usually have over 100 kids come and visit Illinois Space Day. Other outreach projects include the College of Engineering’s Engineering Open House. We exhibit some of the technical projects that we have been working on throughout the year as well as some of the exhibits shown above. This outreach event targets all ages and has thousands of attendees every year. Apart from that, we have organized and taught classes at local elementary schools in the fall, and are currently assisting a local Boy Scout troop obtain their Space Exploration Merit Badges. In the past we have participated in Millennium Girls and have assisted other University of Illinois student run organizations with their outreach programs.


Illinois Space Day

This past October, the Illinois Space Society held their largest educational outreach event ever. The society organizes Illinois Space Day yearly, however, this year the event had a total attendance of around 150 people of different ages. Throughout this event, participants were able to learn about the different projects that the Illinois Space Society and other Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Registered Student Organizations. Tucker Gritton, a previous UIUC Aerospace Alumn, was the keynote speaker. Gritton works at United Launch Alliance as a propulsion engineer. Afterwards, participants took part in an egg drop competition, putting their engineering skills to the test. Pictures of the event are included below.

Illinois Space Day Dropbox 

StemX at UIUC

The Illinois Space Society hosted a workshop for the 2016 UIUC StemX organized by the university’s Engineering Council. This event focuses on introducing high school students to STEM related fields through a variety of workshops. These workshops cover a unique variety of STEM related topics and students are also able to explore campus.

The Illinois Space Society hosted a tutorial on rocketry. After covering all of the necessary components of a rocket and introducing the participants to projects our society is currently working on, the participants put what they had learned to the test. Model rockets were supplied and once built, they were launched off of Bardeen Quad. A great way to end the workshop!


Plainfield Schools Let’s Learn About Space Presentation

The Illinois Space Society organized two presentations for around 100 first grade and 100 third grade students revolving around the topic of space. These students, already covering the solar system, were able to participate in the presentation, applying what they had learned to what was covered in the presentation. The students were able to model the orbit of the planets with balloons and preset string orbits. Through this presentation students were able to expand their knowledge of the solar system as well as learn about other projects scientists and engineers are currently working on (i.e. the Journey to Mars, SLS, James Webb, etc.).



Engineering Open House (EOH) 2017

Every year, the Illinois Space Society participates in the Illinois College of Engineering’s Engineering Open House. Every year in mid-March, over one thousand students K-12 and parents come to campus and get to tour the exhibits from the different student organizations within the college. The Illinois Space Society has three main exhibits: cold fire of the EOH hybrid engine, liquid nitrogen and space shuttle tile demonstrations, and finally the technical projects exhibit. The latter exhibit displays all of the current technical projects the society is working on as well as an orbital simulator. Below are pictures from the three main exhibits.


Boy Scouts NOVAREE 2017

The Illinois Space Society organizes a workshop for a local Boy Scout troop every semester. This workshop is done to help the Boy Scouts obtain their Space Exploration Merit Badge. This workshop focuses on mainly rocketry and starts off with a space history lesson. The society then gave an overview on rocketry: the basic components, how rockets work, etc. The students are then able to seen the application of the lesson to two technical rocket projects. Finally, the students are given the opportunity to build their own model rockets and launch them. This workshop includes 10-15 students and the society has been organizing a workshop yearly. Below are some pictures from the 2017 workshop



Other Educational Outreach Events

Aside from the events included above, the Illinois Space Society also participates in weekly events with local schools. The society teaches a space lecture to a group of elementary school students every week, with a different topic covered each week: rocketry, mission design, space tools, planets, etc.  The society also helped a local high school with their Science Olympiad projects every week until the final competitions in May.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to participate in any future educational outreach activities, please contact Elena Kamis at