November 1, 2018
On Saturday, September 29th El Paso, Texas celebrated its first space festival with over 500 attendees, 10 NISE Network Earth & Space activities, 10 local space organizations, and an astronaut! This was NEVER our intention.
What started as a simple plan to host a science event for 100 children from local child crisis centers at the neighborhood Elks Lodge quickly got out of hand...in a great way. The concept for a space event arose during an unrelated discussion between the Insights El Paso Science Center and the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 187. We realized that a simple combination of Boy Scout volunteers, NISE Network Earth & Space activities, and Elks Lodge venue would provide an ideal setting to host a small space event. Discussing these plans with various stakeholders, we realized that there was a tremendous amount of public interested in a space festival. Inspired by local interest and the success of the Las Cruces Space Festival (40 miles to our North) we began working to improve the educational scope and accessibility of the El Paso Space Festival. With growing community support, we were able expand the festival scope to include:
- 1-hour Q&A session and group photo with NASA astronaut Danny Olivas
- 95 Festival Volunteers
- 200 pounds of donated NASA printed educational materials
- 15+ Volunteer science and math teachers operating 10 NISE Network Earth & Space activities (Activity Kits available to Insights El Paso Science Center via a collaboration with the EP Children’s Museum)
- 16 exhibitors providing 9 additional hands-on space activities
- $1,000 in donated raffle prizes (signed copies of Danny Olivas’ book ‘Endeavour's Long Journey’) for families that completed their ‘space passport’
- Free lunch included with a $3 festival ticket
- Special free access for children from 3 different group homes
- Evening star gazing party
With over 500 participants, 100% positive survey feedback data, and strong support from the local commercial space sector we have already begun plans for a bigger and better 2019 EP Space Festival.
The 2019 EP Space festival will focus on engaging even more space organizations, serving at least 2,000 participants. With the recent explosion of US space festivals (Santa Fe, NM, Las Cruces, NM and El Paso, TX), we will continue to collaborate with other festival organizers to improve the quality of our festivals.
El Paso, TX is an ideal location for a space festival. It is geographically sandwiched in between two commercial spaceports: Blue Origin 100 miles to our west and Spaceport America (Virgin Galactic launch site) 100 miles to our north. El Paso also shares an intimate border with Juarez, Mexico, the world’s largest producer of aerospace components. Our city sits at the crossroads of a burgeoning commercial space race, however, most El Pasoans are completely unaware of the educational and economic opportunities this new sector can provide. With a growing annual #EPSpaceFestival, we will change this narrative.
The EP Space Festival never would have happened without the 2018 NISE Earth and Space Toolkit.
If you want to learn more about the El Paso Space Festival please contact Meghan Curry, Executive Director at Insights El Paso Science Center, at [email protected].
[About Insights] Founded in 1980, the Insights El Paso Science Center served as an innovative interactive science center in downtown El Paso, TX until it was demolished in 2012 for the installation of a baseball stadium. After operating in an abandoned school and shopping mall, Insight’s made the decision in 2017 to pivot to a completely mobile outreach model. With one year of operating as a lean 100% mobile museum under our belt, we have already served over 4,030 adults and children via summer camps, afterschool programs, adult Nerd Nights, and tours throughout the region. As a museum without walls we will continue creating more learning experiences in unexpected places throughout the Border Region (West Texas, Southern New Mexico, and Northern Mexico).