NASA Glenn Hosts 25th Annual Young Astronaut Day

Press Release From: Glenn Research Center
Posted: Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Over 400 first through 12th grade students will compete for ribbons at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland during the 25th Annual Young Astronaut Day on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The competition will take place in two sessions: session one is from 9 to 11 a.m., and session two is from 3 to 5 p.m. NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy Capt. Sunita Williams will deliver the keynote address at 11:15 a.m. and 2:10 p.m.

“We are very excited to be opening this event up to 60 student organizations,” said Ashlie Flegel, an aerospace engineer at Glenn and co-coordinator of Young Astronaut Day. “We will reach more youth in the surrounding region to explore team-based STEM challenges similar to the type of work being performed at NASA. Each year we see students’ creativity blossom as they solve engineering problems in this fast-paced, high-energy atmosphere.”

The students compete on "pilot" and "commander" teams with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities. The Pilots, first through sixth graders, will compete in three challenges:

The Parachute Drop Challenge - students design and build a parachute and a capsule that can accurately land the largest payload while learning about aerodynamic design and experimental methods.
The Spudnaut Challenge - students learn about protecting astronauts from the space environment by building a protective suit for a potato astronaut.
The Planetary Lander Challenge - students design a shock-absorbing method to protect a rover and other hardware from the impact of landing.
The Commanders, seventh through 12th graders, will also compete in three challenges:

The Robotic Arm Challenge - students will design and build a robotic arm that can grab a space vehicle and dock it with the space shuttle using Lego Mindstorms NXT.
The Space Communication Challenge - students will learn how astronauts communicate in space, by testing their teamwork and communication skills to build several space structures.
The Apollo 13 Challenge - students will recreate the infamous challenge faced during the Apollo 13 mission and patch a filtration system by fitting a square peg in a round hole.
Each aerospace-themed activity is designed to encourage students to explore the nature of flight and experience real-life applications of STEM.

Also during the event, NASA engineers and contractor staff and Canstruction architects will guide students to design and build a replica of the space shuttle made entirely of canned foods. The canned goods are donated to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

Young Astronaut Day sponsors include: NASA’s Glenn Research Center; the Northern Ohio Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Cleveland; and HX5 LLC, Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Volunteers are: Herschman Architects Canstruction, Cleveland; Cleveland State University AIAA Student Section, Cleveland; Vantage Partners LLC, Lanham, Maryland; Alcyon, Huntsville, Alabama; DB Consulting Group Inc., Silver Spring, Maryland; and CASE Western Reserve University’s Robotics Team, Cleveland.

Media interested in attending should contact Jeannette Owens at 216-433-2990 or

For more information about Young Astronaut Day 2017 and a list of participating schools, visit:

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