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This just in! From WPI! Touch-Tomorrow fest!!!

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WPI Hosts 5th Annual TouchTomorrow Festival

June 11

Robots, Rockets, and even an Astronaut!

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Free!

One of the region’s largest interactive science, technology, and robotics festivals is returning to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) on June 11.

TouchTomorrow is a free, family-friendly festival that features hands-on activities and exhibits designed to inspire children, teens, and young adults to explore the thrill and fun of science and technology.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine, and includes exhibits presented by WPI, NASA, WGBH, and a wide variety of museums, educational organizations, and companies.

The fifth anniversary festival will feature some favorite NASA exhibits, including the asteroid landscape, the Roll-over Rover, the famous MARCBot IV Rover, and the Mark III space suit. This year NASA is introducing its Virtual Reality chairs with monitors and Oculus glasses that take users on a planetary tour.

Visitors will also have the chance to meet and hear from Charlie Precourt, former NASA Chief Astronaut and veteran of four Space Shuttle missions.

WPI will also welcome back to campus Paul Ventimiglia, Class of 2012 and BattleBots 2015 World Champion. His robot, BiteForce, won the competition on national television and will defend the title this summer when the hit show returns to ABC prime time on June 23. In addition to BattleBots, Ventimiglia has had a number of victories in robotics competitions. In 2009, while still a student at WPI, he led a university-sponsored team in NASA’s Regolith Excavation Challenge. He will discuss what it takes to build an award-winning robot and give an insider’s look at the advancement in robotics.  

For the third year in a row, WGBH will serve as the official media partner for the festival. A national leader in the effort to expand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the classroom and at home, WGBH will host multimedia activities for students and STEM enthusiasts of all ages at TouchTomorrow. A number of popular WGBH characters, including Curious George, will make appearances throughout the day.

Among other activities, attendees at TouchTomorrow may:

Take a photo in a NASA spacesuit,

watch what happens to marshmallow Peeps inside a real vacuum chamber,

explore the Fire Protection Engineering lab and Automation and Interventional Medicine (AIM) lab at WPI’s Gateway Park,

engage in interactive activities—extract DNA from strawberries,

Build a raspberry-flavored solar cell,

help a robot play a musical instrument, and learn about advanced manufacturing technology, including laser cutters and 3-D printers,

talk with WPI researchers who are exploring autonomous vehicle technology, building homes of the future, and developing an exo-skeleton with hydro-muscles and …

see WPI student project work in robotics, game design and animation, architectural engineering, and other areas.

TouchTomorrow follows the NASA Sample Return Robot (SRR) Challenge, a Centennial Challenge competition to be held June 7-11 on WPI’s campus. The challenge—created to drive competition and innovation among individual inventors, students, and private companies—requires teams to design and build an autonomous robotic system that will locate and collect geological samples without human control. For more information on the SRR Challenge and a list of competitors, visit here.

“Every year, TouchTomorrow allows the WPI campus to become a hub of amazing interactive exhibits designed specifically to excite young people, families, and teachers about science and technology,” said WPI president Laurie Leshin. “The festival is the perfect way to cap off the NASA Sample Return Robot Competition.  It is tremendously gratifying to welcome some of the most innovative robotics engineers from across the country to campus; it is also amazing to be able to show people of all ages that science, engineering and technology is amazing, fun, and critical to making the world a better place, and to empower them to envision their own futures in those fields.”

The future …

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From the Kennedy Space Center …

Maybe visit the Kennedy Space Center during school vacation week, if you’re lucky!

Mmmm … there’s something about male astronauts. Something way more than Kevin Bacon in APOLLO 13.  – R.T.

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2015) – On Saturday, May 30, 2015, four space shuttle astronauts will be inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame® during a public ceremony held at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Space Shuttle AtlantisSM  attraction: John Grunsfeld, Ph. D., Steven Lindsey, Kent Rominger, and M. Rhea Seddon, M.D.

These astronaut heroes will join the ranks of well-known space explorers including Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. This year marks the historic 25th anniversary of the Hall of Fame, which was conceived in the 1980s by the six remaining Mercury astronauts as a place where space explorers could be remembered. Past Hall of Fame inductees include Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle astronauts.

This year’s inductees comprise the 14th group of space shuttle astronauts named to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, bringing the total number of members to 91. Among this year’s inductees are a robotics expert who conducted three missions to repair the Hubble Space Telescope; two former military aviators who became space shuttle pilots and commanders on key shuttle missions to build the International Space Station; and a medical doctor and payload commander on life sciences missions who was one of NASA’s first female astronauts.

The 2015 Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 30. Admittance into the ceremony is included in admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex; however, seating is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

John M. Grunsfeld, Ph.D., was selected as a NASA astronaut in March 1992. A five-flight veteran (STS-67 Endeavour, STS-81 Atlantis, STS-103 Discovery, STS-109 Columbia and STS-125 Atlantis), he has logged more than 58 days in space, including 58 hours and 30 minutes of extravehicular activity (EVA) over the course of eight spacewalks.

On his last three missions, Grunsfeld worked to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. As a mission specialist on STS-103 in December 1999, he performed two of the three EVAs required to restore the Hubble to working order after the failure of its gyroscopes. As payload commander of STS-109 Columbia in March 2002, Grunsfeld was responsible for the five EVAs over five consecutive days required to upgrade Hubble’s systems. He performed three of these spacewalks, installing a new solar array, power control unit and other equipment. STS-125 Atlantis in May 2009 was the fifth and final Hubble servicing mission. Grunsfeld served as the lead once again for the five EVAs required to perform repairs and to install crucial new equipment. He performed three of the five spacewalks.

Grunsfeld retired from NASA in December 2009 to become the Deputy Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute and a professor of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. He rejoined NASA in 2012 and is currently the agency Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Each year, inductees are selected by a committee of Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials, flight directors, historians and journalists. The process is administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. To be eligible, an astronaut must have made his or her first flight at least 17 years before the induction. Candidates must be a U.S. citizen and a NASA-trained commander, pilot or mission specialist who has orbited the earth at least once.

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About the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun and educational activities, including the Kennedy Space Center Tour featuring the Saturn V Center with an actual Saturn V moon rocket, the new Space Shuttle AtlantisSM, Shuttle Launch Experience®, 3D IMAX® space films, Astronaut Encounter, Exploration Space®:  Explorers Wanted and many other interactive exhibits.

Admission also includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, featuring historic spacecraft and the world’s most comprehensive collection of personal astronaut memorabilia (opens daily at noon; closing times vary by season). Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. with closing times varying by season. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.

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About the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

The United States Astronaut Hall of Fame was first conceived in the 1980s, when the six surviving Mercury astronauts sought to create a place where space travelers could be remembered. Their dream was realized in 1990, when the Hall of Fame attraction opened in Titusville, Fla. outside the gates to Kennedy Space Center. Today, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation serves as a consultant for the Hall of Fame, which includes conducting the selection process of astronauts for enshrinement by an outside committee.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation awards merit-based scholarships to the best and brightest students pursuing science, technology, engineering and math.  The prestigious Astronaut Scholarship is known nationwide for being among the highest scholarships awarded to undergraduate STEM students. Since its inception, ASF has awarded over $4 million in scholarship to more than 370 of the nation’s top scholars.

For more information, call 321-449-4876 or log on to www.AstronautScholarship.org