Stargazing on the White House Lawn

Stargazing on the White House Lawn


Guests of President Obama travel through time and space in the White House Astronomy Night tomorrow night. This special, space-lovin’ spectacular returns to the South Lawn of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Monday night, October 19, to celebrate science, technology, and space, three of Maker Camp’s favorite topics, and Maker Camp was invited to take part in this extraterrestrial event.

In our newly expanded free-to-join, year-round, after-school program, we’re highlighting our classic sky-facing maker projects, including rockets, rainbow spectrometers, galaxy slime, interplanetary costumes, and more. See below for links!

You can join a live webcast with other star-centric students, teachers, scientists, astronauts, and others as they stargaze tonight, and/or if you want to host a watch party in conjunction with the White House Astronomy Night, tell them about it here.

President Obama looks through a telescope during the 2009 White House Astronomy Night. Photo: Chuck Kennedy

Our “Geek-in-Chief” has hosted no fewer than five White House Science Fairs, the first-ever White House Maker Faire, and the first White House Demo Day. At our nation’s first White House Astronomy Night in 2009, Obama said, “There are a lot of mysteries left and there are a lot of problems for you students to solve. And I want to be a President who makes sure you have the teachers and the tools that you need to solve them.”  We know a lot of the next batch of scientists, engineers, and inventors are taking part in Maker Camp right now, and we can’t wait to see what new discoveries they’ll bring to science, space, and exploration!

At Maker Camp we’ve had some amazing visits with NASA: with Buzz Aldrin and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA SOFIA (its airborne observatory), Neuroscience Lab at NASA Johnson Space Center

Hillsdale Library has hosted Maker Camp for a few summers now.
Hillsdale Library has hosted Maker Camp for a few summers now.

Rockets launch often at Maker Camp, starting with the very first day of the very first Maker Camp back in 2012 when Rick Schertle wowed us with Compressed Air Rockets launching inside the beautiful, historic Great Hall of the New York Hall of Science. We’ve made rocket launchers with milk jugs and bike pumps. We’ve launched LED fireworks on a soda bottle. We’ve fueled our rockets with baking soda & vinegar and with Coke Mentos Rocket Car with EepyBird.

Rainbow spectroscopes: We hung out with our pal Roy G. Biv for our most colorful day, full of light and rainbows to prepare for our field trip to NASA’s airborne observatory, SOFIA. Some people look at the world through rose-colored glasses. Everywhere we look we see rainbows, using our spiffy spectroscopes.

slime 2

Galaxy slime: During our Far-out Future week, we got good and gooey with Galaxy Slime. We think of it as something between an imaginary alien substance and a modeling medium that makes the cosmically large sparkly and small, tactile and accessible. 

Interplanetary costumes: Make Trashion, Moon Boots and upcycle common stuff into futuristic design and useful accessories.

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Michelle, or Binka, makes . While at Maker Media, she oversaw publications, outreach, and programming for kids, families, and schools. Before joining Maker Media in 2007, she worked at the Exploratorium, in Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, and as a curriculum designer for various publishers and educational researchers. When she’s not supporting future makers, including her two young sons, Binka does some making of her own, most often as a visual artist.

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