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Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Rocket Launch

In 2019, I planned a large-scale community event that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch. This hands-on event involved building and launching model rockets, hands-on science activities, and various collaborations from Penn State and local community groups.

NASA took “one giant leap” 50 years ago with the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first astronauts on the moon. To celebrate the anniversary of the mission’s launch, on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, Penn State supported an attempt by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to break the Guinness World Record for most model rockets launched simultaneously.  

The event, which was free and open to the public, took place from 8:30 a.m. to 1p.m. at the Ag Progress Days site, Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center. Over 300 people attended the event.  

Twenty-four rockets launched at 9:32 a.m., and then members of the community had the opportunity to launch their own model rockets. 60 model kits and 60 rockets to decorate were given out and built / decorated on site. These rockets were then launched at subsequent launches between 9:32 AM and 12:00 PM.  Over 150 motorized and 80 non-motorized rockets were launched over the course of the event. 

The Pasto Agricultural Museum featured a special “Food on the Go” program with hands-on activities from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The program focused on the history of food and travel, from Viking explorers to Oregon Trail settlers to astronauts. Visitors had the opportunity to identify menus on a food timeline and sample freeze-dried astronaut food. The Pasto Agricultural Museum reported 170 people visiting their exhibit.  

Additional activities included space-themed entertainment and STEM exhibits and demonstrations. There was a total of 14 exhibitors present. Departments in the colleges of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Engineering and Agricultural Sciences and the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium coordinated the family event to highlight the importance of the Apollo 11 anniversary and STEM education.  

Power in Numbers






Different Penn State Departments and Community Groups Involved

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