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Aerospace Day Offers Local Students Hands-on STEM Experiences

On Feb. 23, Boise State University bustled with 300 middle- and high-school students as they participated in the fourth annual Aerospace Day. Aerospace Day engages students from Ada and Canyon counties to interact with aerospace, aeronautical and aviation studies through hands-on activities and presentations, many of which were designed and conducted by Boise State students.

During the Meet-A-Bronco session, students met with Boise State students to talk about going to college, preparing for college, and pursuing STEM degrees while overcoming barriers or obstacles. Another session was led by the Boise State Microgravity Team and explored the topic of collisions in space.

“Middle school kids can easily believe that science is something done by people in different worlds far away. The opportunity to see it happening first hand, by real people and in a place just down the street makes kids think, ‘Hey, I would be good at this!'” said Boise School District teacher Christopher Litzinger.

Students also had the opportunity to watch a presentation given by former NASA astronaut and Distinguished Educator in Residence Steve Swanson. More than 50 volunteers from across industry, government, community and Boise State offered programming and experiences for students.

“Educational outreach events like Aerospace Day allow students to look beyond their textbooks, understand what applications science has in the ‘real world,’ and see the cool research being done at Boise State firsthand,” said presenter Kate Markham, a doctoral student in the ecology, evolution and behavior program.

“I teach eight grade earth science in Nampa and my colleague and I got to bring 50 of our students to Aerospace Day. Working at a Title One school, it is so important to expose students to higher education,” said East Valley Middle School teacher Kelly Zanot.

Aerospace Day was funded by the NASA EPSCOR program under grant #80NSSC17M0029 awarded to Professor David Estrada of the Micron School of Material Science and Engineering. The event was organized by Megan Gambs of the Institute for STEM & Diversity Initiatives.