Dawn at STEMapalooza! What on Earth?
  Student playing the online NanoParticle Builder interactive
Student building molecules with the NanoParticle Builder interactive.
Credit: McREL

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) came together in Denver, Colorado on October 24–25, 2008 for a palooza – an all out party and celebration of science, technology engineering and mathematics fields: STEMapalooza!

Of course NASA’s Dawn’s mission was there. McREL’s Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) team highlighted three Discovery missions (Dawn, EPOXI, and Stardust-NExT) at a fun and exciting booth where participants had an opportunity to take part in a variety of hands-on, interactive activities.

The most popular interactive was Dawn’s “Design Your Own Ion Engine.” A group of students were so excited about the challenge of this game that they returned to the booth repeatedly to see if anyone had achieved a higher score than they did. They didn’t need to worry: no one could beat them! Visitors were invited to sign up for Dawn E-News for a chance to win a Dawn Mission hat.

Pensive student playing the Design Your Own Engine interactive online
Student attempting to achieve high score on the Ion Propulsion Activity.
Credit: McREL

Upon exiting the booth, each person received a unique Stardust-NExT sticker (the Stardust-NExT website is newly launched, too), and had the opportunity to receive other items such as the Dawn mission’s Aster’s Hoity Toity Belt story, the Discovery Program bookmark and Space Thrills poster.

Over 6000 participants: students, educators, business leaders and Colorado's Governor Ritter, converged at STEMapalooza, a rousing initiation to the first annual event at the Colorado Convention Center, sponsored by the University of Colorado at Denver. McREL was thrilled to be a part of it!