Astronaut Day program reinforces STEM skills

by Melissa Martin

Brecksville-Broadview Heights Middle School and Elementary School students applied their STEM skills in a set of engineering challenges recently as part of the 28th annual Young Astronaut Day at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center.

Sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Northern Ohio, the Young Astronaut Day program is designed to educate and encourage students regarding STEM career fields and NASA. 

BBH students, including six middle school students from sixth and seventh grade, and 12 elementary school students from fourth and fifth grade, participated in the program. These students utilized their communication and critical thinking skills to work in teams to complete three activities that encompass one mission within a two-hour period while competing against other teams.

Throughout the event, local scientists and engineers volunteered to lead the activities.

Fourth-grade students built and launched their own rockets constructed out of paper and other supplies. They also engaged in a remote sensing activity, as part of which they determined the shape of covered objects via “echo locating” by shooting marbles at the objects. Points were awarded based on how accurately students predicted the shape of the covered object. Students also had the opportunity to design and build lightweight solar shields to prevent light from reaching their space instruments.

Students in fifth through eighth grade worked together to design Mars rover wheels capable of moving fast through both sandy flat and sloped terrains. Students also discovered the challenges of communicating in space with each team member being assigned a role as an observer, transmitter and builder.

Each team was required to build a space structure with the builder and observer only being able to communicate through the transmitter.

The day’s third challenge involved successfully navigating a Mars rover through a timed obstacle course, with the BBHMS team taking first place. Other participating BBH teams earned recognition during the event as well. ∞

Several students participated in Young
Astronaut Day at Cleveland State
University where they used STEM skills to complete engineering missions crafted by NASA employees. Photo submitted.