Over 1000 visitors were introduced to the ambitious Enterprise In Space (EIS) program at Space Day recently held June 4 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum (NASM). NASM houses artifacts of important milestones along the path of aviation and aeronautical development.
Invited to be among the many firsts of historical space achievements celebrated at Space Day, the EIS team was thrilled to participate in collaboration with the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC). This year’s event drew some 30,000 visitors from around the world and included a presentation by astronaut Terry Virts.
Visitors at the EIS booth were excited to learn about its educational mission and the differences between the EIS program and some of the historical and inspirational missions of the past. National Space Society’s EIS mission includes many important ‘firsts:’
- The first spacecraft bearing the name Enterprise to orbit Earth
- The first Sci-Fi inspired design of a spacecraft.
- The first to converse with student teams in natural language while in orbit using an artificial intelligence just like the Star Trek™ computer assisted their crews with experiments and analyses.
- The first non-profit organization to launch and return student experiments free of charge, allowing children of all socio-economic levels to participate.
- Students work in cross-cultural teams to convince judges that their experiment should earn the right to be among the 100+ experiments flown.
- Likely the first 3-D printed spacecraft (aero-frame and skin) to orbit and return to Earth.
- The first to promote and encourage liberal and fine arts as part of the experimental design.
“The collaboration between SSEC and EIS will promote authentic STEM experiences, a focus of the Federal Committee on STEM Education,” says Carol O’Donnell, Director of SSEC. She captivated students at an enjoining booth in an interactive activity involving an eclipse and moon phase demonstration, one of the lessons found in SSEC’s intermediate astronomy course. In a conversation discussing how authentic learning experiences are increasing the rigor and raising the bar of education, Dr. O’Donnell posed the question, “How much more authentic can you get than with the EIS program!”
Authentic learning engagement is a top priority of EIS and will be achieved through the student experiment design challenges. At Space Day, visitors had a chance to experience some lessons in the web-based EIS Academy (K-12) and cutting-edge challenges in the university level Enterprise Centers for Excellence. The LEO Art Challenge and Trek-A-Sat activities were a hit and can be found at www.eisacademy.org.
Visitors showed outstanding enthusiasm while interacting with EIS and SSEC representatives, resulting in Doug Baldwin, Program Director of Educational Services at NASM, noting that he “looks forward to working on future collaborations and events with EIS and SSEC.”
“EIS is delighted and honored to participate in Space Day and meet the dedicated people who’s hard work make this event possible year after year. As previous generations were inspired by the Apollo program, EIS hopes to inspire the next generation,” said Alice Hoffman, Program Manager of EIS.
Enterprise in Space is inspiring today’s children for tomorrow’s future.