The Outreach arm of the Columbia Space Initiative (CSI) has been focused for several years on connecting with and engaging middle school students throughout New York City. Our educational programming is specifically focused on space science and engineering topics, and is developed to increase exposure to not only STEM concepts, but also professional and educational pathways within STEM fields. We work primarily with students underrepresented in STEM, and in the previous academic year, our efforts brought enriching experiences to over 800 students in total.
Through our partnership with local non-profit Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth (SGHY), CSI volunteers visit schools to teach students about aerospace engineering and science, serve as guides for science museum trips, invite students to campus to learn about CSI’s many technical missions, and volunteer as summer camp astronomy counselors. We also host a semester-long project where students get to design, build, and launch their own model rockets, and are currently working to develop new programming centered around our cube satellite mission.
Develop new space science and engineering curriculum to deliver to students at local schools
Forge new and long-lasting connections with middle and high schools across New York
Develop new cube satellite-centered programming to share CSI’s newest project with the public
Update and improve upon model rocketry curriculum and designs to host launch events in the spring
Create new space science and engineering curriculum for auditorium programs
Columbia Space Initiative tabled at Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Kid’s Week to get New York City’s kids interested in engineering and space exploration.
We presented current and previous projects from the Micro-G mission, a model rocket from the rockets mission, and Roaree with a video of his trip to space on a high altitude balloon.
All of the kids that stopped by our table were really interested in our missions and many said they wanted to be future astronauts and engineers. Some of them were as young as five years old, but already had previous knowledge of rockets and current developments in the aerospace industry. We invited the kids make paper airplanes using various designs to demonstrate aerodynamic concepts like lift, drag and thrust.
Ultimately, presenting the work that CSI was a great experience because we got to share our work with curious young minds and we hopefully inspired some of them to pursue space exploration in the future!
– Chris Fryer, Micro-G
CSI’s Outreach team has taught over 200 NYC middle schoolers at MS 302 and MS 126 this past month, in partnership with the Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth Foundation and the Columbia Engineering Outreach Office in its “Engineering Speaks” outreach lecture series.
We enjoyed sharing about the history of aerospace, the basics of space science, and the cool new innovations and companies in aerospace today. Most of all, we enjoyed seeing the students’ enthusiasm and curiosity about aerospace. At the end of each lecture, we had a paper airplane competition to illustrate aerodynamic principles firsthand. We were blown away by their engineering skills - there were airplanes that traveled all the way across the auditorium, airplanes that boomeranged back to their owners, and more! Each time, students would linger afterward to ask us follow-up questions and to tell us about their future plans to become pilots or scientists. It has been a truly rewarding set of experiences, and we can’t wait to continue to inspire and be inspired by the next generation of space engineers and scientists in spring.
– Leena Chen
This Saturday was our third time participating in CU Splash, a day-long event for high school students to learn topics outside of the classroom. We taught a course called “Intro to Space Exploration,” where we introduced basic orbital mechanics, propellants, space history, and challenges in space.
For many of our students, this was their first exposure to space science and aerospace engineering.
In addition to the science, we discussed commercial space companies, international space industries and modern innovation like suit ports and inflatable space modules.
We held two sections and each had 40+ students. We had lots of fun inspiring the next generation of space travelers.
Thank you to Leena, ShaSha, Caleb, Tejit, Lily, Megan, Chris, and Garrett for making this day of space learning possible.
– Lily He