What is Space Day?
Organized by university students, Purdue Space Day (PSD) is an educational outreach program, which provides school students in grades 3-8 the opportunity to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by participating in three age-appropriate activity sessions throughout the day. The grade school students are divided into three separate age ranges: Grades 3-4; Grades 5-6 and Grades 7-8.
Purdue Fall Space Day started in 1996 and the first Fall Space Day was inaugurated on Saturday November 9, 1996 with just over 150 school students in attendance and 40 Purdue students who ran the program.
Over the years, the event has grown to accommodate over 650 3-8 grade-school students with volunteer support from over 200 university students from over 38 majors. Fall Space Day became an independent student organization in 2007 and changed its name to Purdue Space Day. (PSD)
Since 1996, over 5,400 grade school students have participated in PSD and over 1,700 Purdue students have taken a lead in this exceptional program. Due to sponsorship, PSD is able to provide an entire day's worth of space, science, and engineering centered activities for third through eighth graders at no cost to the participants.
One highlight of the day is the attendance of a Purdue Alumnus Astronaut. The astronaut starts the day with a presentation and is on hand throughout the day interacting with the students and giving them first-hand information about their space flight experience. Past astronauts include John Blaha, Mark Brown, John Casper, Andrew Feustel, Guy Gardner, Greg Harbaugh, Gary Payton, Mark Polansky, Loren Shriver, Scott Tingle, Janice Voss, Don Williams, David Wolf and Charlie Walker. In addition to the day itself, the astronaut VIP also gives a one-hour presentation on the evening before. This event is free and open to the public. It is always well attended, thus demonstrating the great interest in the nation's space program and astronauts.
University student volunteers known as Crew wear a distinctively colored PSD T-shirt on the day with the current years' Mission patch. In addition to being a safety aspect, the grade school students are encouraged to ask the Crew questions, and thus are looked to as role models by the younger students. These T-shirts also promote a sense of unity amongst the Crew. The back of the T-shirt also allows space for logos of sponsors to be included. These T-shirts continue to be worn by the university students throughout the year.