50 years ago Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on Moon on 20 July 1969. It was the first time in human history that people left planet Earth to walk on another world.

To commemorate this event, and more importantly to inspire the next generation to think big and further deep space exploration, we organized a couple of events in and around Toronto where we displayed our space projects and conducted workshops for kids. One of these was our Apollo 11 Outreach Event at the Mini Maker Fair 2019 at the Deer Park School, Toronto.

Presentation of our projects at Mini MakerFaire 2019, Deer Park School, Toronto District School Board, 18 July 2019

We were participating in this event for the second time. We love coming back to science events organized by teachers and parents council members for the kids. Education goes beyond teachers and what goes on in the classroom. It is inclusive and includes parents, teachers, community, libraries, events, maker fairs, demonstrations, field exercises and more. We need to develop creativity, build conversations on science and encourage a problem-solving mindset in the younger generation. And organizing a mini MakerFaire in schools is one way to do it.

Artash and Arushi with their homemade space projects all set to demonstrate to kids.

We exhibited several of our home-made space projects including a model of Trappist-1 exoplanetary system (for kids to learn about a planetary system beyond their own), the Star Globe (to learn more about colors of stars and how we can determine the temperature and age of stars from them), Make an Astronaut Smile (MARS) bot which uses machine learning to determine facial emotions if they are happy or sad, and our newest project – the Music Making Machine that provides musical outputs based on musical melody played by the user on a piano.

Artash giving Demo
Artash giving a quick lesson to kids on how Machine Learning works and how it can generate music based on the inputs they give on the piano.

We had several hundred kids from elementary and middle school interacting with our exhibits, asking questions, learning more about exoplanets, stars, lunar landing, and machine learning, and wanting to build projects of their own. It was interesting to see how kids are excited about space when we merged Space exploration with other fields including arts, music, machine learning, and maths.

Talking to Educators
Artash interacting with teachers and fielding questions on how to bring these projects within the classroom settings

Everyone was excited to see how machine learning is able to detect facial emotions and generate music. Many of the kids have done programming at home and in schools and they were excited to see what projects they could take up by mixing their knowledge of programming with their making skills using household items such as bottles, cardboards, old toys and more.

There was tremendous interest from teachers who brought their classes to see the exhibits. They were interested in learning how they can build some of the exhibits in classroom settings, especially those merging Space with arts and music as that would interest a lot of kids.

We plan to be back again next year with newer exhibits!

We thank IAU100 for providing us with background posters for this event.

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