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Big Green Earth

Big Green Earth

Space Exploration and Earth Day Come Together Saturday, April 18, at UCR’s Bourns Space Science and Engineering Day

(April 9, 2009)

Kids get a demonstration of how the Mars rover works at the Bourns Space Science and Engineering Day on April 18.Enlarge

Kids get a demonstration of how the Mars rover works at the Bourns Space Science and Engineering Day on April 18.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- Bourns Space Science and Engineering Day at UC Riverside will be greener this year as activities focusing on the planet’s sustainability share the stage with space exploration and a model of the Mars Rover.

Free activities designed to encourage young women to pursue careers in science, technology and engineering will begin at noon Saturday, April 18, in the courtyard of Engineering Building II.

A record 700 participants, mostly Girl Scouts, their siblings and their parents from the Inland area, have registered for the event sponsored by UC Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering and the Society of Women Engineers. This year’s theme is “Green Innovations for a Brighter Future.”

“One of these students could be the first person to step on the planet Mars,” said Angela Phillips Diaz, who is on loan from NASA and is serving as special assistant to the UC Riverside chancellor. “We want Bourns Space Science and Engineering Day to inspire these students to dream big, work hard in school and see their dreams come true."

Guest speakers and more than a dozen activities geared toward ages 7 to 12 will entertain as well as educate.

Youngsters will interact with a model of the Mars Rover and use a robotic arm to transfer water from one cup to another courtesy of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They will learn about the phases of the moon by eating Oreos and use pencils to create their own constellations inside a giant plastic “planetarium.”

Members of the Riverside Astronomical Society will return with their telescopes to share the joys of star gazing.

This year’s event will feature a model home highlighting sustainable living items. Participants will have an opportunity to measure their own carbon footprints.

Also new this year, students from King High School in Riverside will demonstrate a hand-cranked generator made by members of the science club. And, they will teach the children how to make pinwheels to illustrate the technology of wind turbines.

Local Girl Scout troops will roll out a robot they made with guidance from UCR graduate students and conduct an Internet Safety program.

“Our hope is that we can use this event to introduce these young students to the excitement that is taking place in engineering,” said Reza Abbaschian, dean of the Bourns College of Engineering.

The day’s planning and execution are done by UCR graduate and undergraduate students. Bourns Inc. in Riverside is covering most of the costs including goodie bags for the participants.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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