Onizuka Space Science Day 2023

Saturday, March 4, 2023



8:00 – 8:50am       Registration (Marsee Auditorium)

9:00 – 9:05am        Welcome from El Camino College

9:05 – 9:10am        Introductions from Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Committee

9:10 – 10:15am       Keynote Address (Marsee Auditorium), NASA Astronaut Dan Tani

10:15 – 10:30am     Q&A with the Keynote Speaker

10:30 – 10:45am    Travel Time

10:45 – 11:30am     Breakout Session A (Science Complex)

11:30 – 11:45am      Travel Time

11:45 – 12:30pm     Breakout Session B (Science Complex)

12:30 – 1:00pm      Lunch (in front of Bookstore)

12:45pm                    Egg Drop Competition (outside on the east side of the Natural Science Building)


To donate click here:  DONATE


2023 Onizuka Space Science Day Breakout Sessions


OPEN EVENTS (no tickets needed)


Robotics Demonstration

Christopher Hirunthanakorn – Instructor, Robotics (ECC) & Victoria Martinez – Counselor, ITEC (ECC)

Come observe and participate in ECC student robotics competitions and demonstrations throughout the day with robots built by students like you!
Location: ITEC Building


Get Your Hands on Chemistry

Laura Saldarriaga & Miguel Jimenez– Professors, Chemistry (ECC) & Judy Valle – Technician, Chemistry (ECC)

Make squishy polymers, turn ink into a rainbow of colors, and set off a chemistry-powered rocket. Perform these science tricks and more in our amazing outdoor demonstrations!
Location: Science Courtyard

TICKETED EVENTS (tickets required)


1 A/B     NASA Mars, Moon, and Asteroids Missions

Paul Yun – Professor, Mathematics (ECC)

The night sky has captured our imagination for centuries. From ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Chinese astronomers, to NASA scientists of today, learn about the history of our fascination with Mars. Explore past, present, and future missions to Mars, the Moon, and Asteroids.

Location:  Chemistry (Chem) 105


2 A/B   Solving the Mystery of the Owl’s Dinner

Mia Dobbs – Professor, Anatomy & Physiology (ECC) & Ernie Kwok – Lecturer, Biology (ECC)

Experience how paleontologists and forensic scientists solve mysteries of the past and present. Using detailed observations, you will collect, identify and piece together the skeletal remains of an owl’s dinner victim.

Location: Natural Science (Nats) 218


3 A/B     Paint Making – Prussian Blue

Pete Doucette – Professor, Chemistry (ECC) & Ann Pham –  Laboratory Technician (ECC)

Prussian blue is an intense blue pigment used in crayons, poster paint and blueprints.  Students will make and keep a sample of poster paint. *Caution – Hands and clothing may get blue stains.
Participants must be in 6th grade or older.

Location: Chemistry (Chem) 166


4 A/B     The US Space Force Journey to Space

Jonathan Stroud, US Space Force Space Systems Command (United States Space Force)

Join a group of US Space Force space professionals to learn how satellites are launched.  Be a Space Launch Director and command the launch of model rockets that you create.  Live your dreams and send your paper rocket into ‘space’!

Location: Life Science (LS) 108


5 A/B     Strawberry DNA

Sanda Oswald – Professor, Biology (ECC) & Timothy Reonisto – Lecturer, Biology (ECC)

Deoxyribonucleic acid is the double-helical molecule that carries your genetic instructions. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to extract and purify the DNA from strawberries using household items. Come and play with the molecule of life!

Location: Natural Science (Nats) 127


6 A/B     The World of Insects

Bryan Carey – Professor, Biology (ECC)

Insects are extremely beneficial to the environment.  Come view live and preserved insects in the ECC insect collection.  You will learn about a few of the benefits and services insects provide mankind and the environment.

Location: Natural Science (Nats) 129


7 A/B     Fossils, Gemstones, and Minerals

Chuck Herzig & Jwan Wageman – Professors, Geology (ECC)

Where are the best places to hunt fossils? What incredible treasures might you find? Students will participate in the hands-on identification of fabulous fossils, gems, and minerals, and learn the secrets of fossil hunters and other geology superstars!

Location: Natural Science (Nats) 206


8 A/B     The Buzz on Space “Bugs”

Michael Stupy –  Professor Emeritus, Microbiology (ECC)

Learn about weird and wonderful mutated space microbes.  These tiny organisms are stowaways and hitchhikers into space!

Location: Life Science (LS) 130


9 A/B     Paper Airplane Contest

Elizabeth Bermudez, MESA and ASEM Students (ECC)

Students will be given materials and guidelines to construct a paper airplane. The airplanes will compete on distance, direction traveled, and landing accuracy as a target will be placed down the line of sight.

Location: Physics (Phys) 108


10 A/B     Topo Treasure Hunt

Julienne Gard – Professor, Geography (ECC)

Use the science of geography, map reading, and orienteering to search for hidden symbols on campus. Complete the topographic map puzzle to collect prizes.

Location: Natural Science (Nats) 219


11 A/B     Space Medicine

Cheryl Abbani – Lecturer, Anatomy & Physiology (ECC)

What if you caught a bad cold in space, and blowing your nose didn’t work? That was a challenge for the Apollo 7 crew. Space physiology and medicine are necessary areas of research for humans to begin long periods of space travel to places like Mars. Learn about radiation, microgravity, injuries, physiological changes and microbes that are a few of the concerns a space doctor would have in protecting the crew in space.

Location: Natural Science (Nats) 205


12 A/B     Puzzlers in Everyday Physics

John Coroneus & Zeke Murdock – Professors, Physics (ECC)

Bicycle wheels, balls, cow magnets and more – predict and then see the results of amazing popular demonstrations in physics.
Participants must be in 6th grade or older.

Location: Physics (Phys) 112


13 A/B     Stars, Planets,  and Constellations (Planetarium and Telescope Show)

Shimonee Kadakia & Julio Rodriguez & Susan Stolovy – Professors, Physics and Astronomy (ECC)

See what’s up in the sky! You will learn names of easy-to-find stars, constellations, and planets visible tonight. See a fireball, a meteor shower, and other celestial objects. For the other half of the show, you will explore the workings of telescopes and view the Sun (weather permitting). A young astronomer’s delight!

Location: Planetarium


14 A/B     Beautiful Brains

Merium Mubarak – Professor, Anatomy & Physiology (ECC)

Your brain is the control center for your body. Take a journey into the brain to learn how this complex and fascinating organ functions, creates memories, and gets affected by what you do and see. Experience a state-of-the-art 3D digital cadaver, just like the ones used in medical schools!

Location: Life Science (LS) 113


15 A/B     BloodThe Liquid Lifesaver

Rebecca Hernandez – Professor, Anatomy & Physiology (ECC)

Have you seen videos of astronauts floating in space? Explore the effects of microgravity on humans, and discover surprising effects on muscles, bones, the heart, and other parts of the body.

Location: Life Science (LS) 105


16 A/B     Eyes on the Solar System

Amani Garvin & Vashira Azmi – NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors

Explore the planets, their moons, asteroids, comets and the spacecraft exploring them from 1950 to 2050. Ride with the Perseverance Rover as it lands on Mars or check out the Webb Space Telescope as it prepares to send back its first images this Summer—all from the comfort of your computer.

Location: Life Science (LS) 134


17 A/B     Engineering in Space with Emerging Technology

Ally Freitas & Eliana Schoenberg – NextFlex Inc.

Explore emerging technologies and design a product that would help make our presence in space smarter! Learn about Flexible Hybrid Electronics and how they can help keep astronauts healthy or help ensure satellites work properly. Use your creativity to solve a problem with an advanced hardware device!

Location: Chemistry (Chem) 165


18 A/B     Space Surveillance

Colonel Mia Walsh – Commander, Space Base Delta 3 (US Space Force)

How does the US Space Force keep an eye on our skies to keep us safe? Learn about the latest technology in space monitoring. Build your own simple motor that demonstrates electromagnetic energy!

Location: Chemistry (Chem) 133

19 A/B     Sparks in Space

Jessica Ornelas &  Jared Head (Columbia Memorial Space Center)

Electricity is essential to everyday life. It allows us to flip a switch to light a room or generate enough power for our electronics. The energy produced by chemical reactions has also made innovations possible by powering electric vehicles and spacecrafts. By creating your own circuit currents, each participant will get a taste of what power can really do.

Location: Chemistry (Chem) 162


20 A/B     Egg Drop Construction

Shaun Cook – Professor, Chemistry (Cerritos College) & Eduardo Ayala – Professor, Biology (ECC)

Each pair of students will design and construct a device to safely deliver an egg dropped from 34 feet. The physics of the drop will be discussed.  During lunch, all the devices will be entered in the Egg Drop Competition and dropped from the roof of the NS building.  Prizes will be awarded to successful designers.
Participants must be in 3rd grade or older.

Location: Physics (Phys) 109


21 A/B     STEAM Racing and Fueling Planes, Cars, and Ships

Vanessa Franco & Roddy Posada & Valerie Tse – (Torrance Refining Company)

Ready, Set, Go! Let’s race! Design and manufacture a car out of basic materials using STEAM concepts and compete against your peers.  Learn how oil refining produces the fuels that power planes, cars, ships and other products in everyday life.

Location: Physics (Phys) 101



Challenger Astronauts: (left to right, rear row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik. (left to right, front row) Michael Smith, Dick Scobee and Ronald McNair.

Onizuka Space Science Day is dedicated to the memory of the seven Challenger astronauts, who on January 28, 1986 lost their lives in pursuit of their dreams.

Their courage and ambition continue to inspire us all.


Francis Scobee, Commander, Washington
Michael Smith, Co-Pilot, North Carolina
Ellison Onizuka, Mission Specialist, Hawaii
Ronald McNair, Mission Specialist, South Carolina
Judith Resnik, Mission Specialist, Ohio
Gregory Jarvis, Payload Specialist, New York
Christa McAuliffe, High School Teacher, New Hampshire


Dear Participant,

Welcome to the annual Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Lecture Series. Astronaut Onizuka had many dreams – one of which was to help inspire the youth of America to strive for and achieve their career goals. This lecture series was developed in his memory to realize this dream by creating a forum for young people to gather information and receive guidance in the various options available in science-related careers.

We are fortunate to have as our keynote speaker NASA Astronaut Michael Reed Barratt. In addition, the lecture series will feature many other prominent authorities who will present topics ranging from planetarium shows to a satellite demonstration.

We hope that this program will not only help you to learn more about the space frontiers, but also to help you to focus on your future endeavors here on Earth. Enjoy and learn.

The Board of Directors
Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Committee


Lecture Series Goals

  1. To increase our youth’s interest in space science and related fields.
  2. To foster awareness of educational and career opportunities in these fields.
  3. To carry on Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka’s passion for helping students by sharing his dreams, describing career opportunities, urging them to do their very best, emphasizing the importance of education in fulfilling goals and dreams, sharing the excitement of the U.S. space program, and inspiring them to appreciate the greatness of our country.


Keynote Speaker

Daniel M. Tani

NASA Astronaut (Former)

Daniel Tani.jpg

PERSONAL DATA: Born February 1, 1961, in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, but considers Lombard, Illinois, to be his hometown. Married to the former Jane Egan from Cork, Ireland. They have three children. He enjoys golf, flying, running, tennis, music and cooking.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Glenbard East High School, Lombard, Illinois, in 1979; received a Bachelor and a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1984 and 1988, respectively.

AWARDS: Honorary Doctorate of Science, Elmhurst College (IL) 2003. Excellence Award in Science and Technology, U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce, 2003. Japanese-American Citizen League’s Nikkei of the Biennium for Science and Technology, 2002. NASA Spaceflight Medal, 2001. Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Outstanding Technical Achievement Award, 1993.

EXPERIENCE: Mr. Daniel (Dan) Tani is Director of Business Development Operations at Northrop Grumman Space Systems, located in Dulles, VA. From 2012 to 2022, Dan held several roles in the government, non-profit, education and private sectors. Most recently he was the chief of the INSPIRE Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight
Center; he served as the Director of Foundation Grants at the US-Japan Foundation; was a faculty member at The American School in Japan where he taught Middle and High School Science and Technology; and was the Vice President for Cargo and Mission Operations at Orbital ATK (was Orbital Sciences Corporation), a Washington DC-area aerospace company.

From 1996 to 2012, Dan was an astronaut based at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In his 16 year career at NASA, he flew on 2 space missions, for an accumulated 132 days in space, featuring 6 space walks. On his first spaceflight (2001), he served as a Mission Specialist on the 12-day STS-108 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. On his second spaceflight (2007-2008), he served as a Flight Engineer for 4 months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as a member of the Expedition 16 crew. He was delivered to the ISS as a member of the STS-120 crew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, and was returned to Earth as a member of the STS-122 crew aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis. His spaceflight preparation included extensive training at the cosmonaut training facility in
Star City, Russia; hiking and sea kayaking with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS); winter and sea survival courses; high performance jet flying; and serving as a member of the NEEMO-2 crew where he worked and lived in an underwater habitat for 8 days. In addition to his training and preparation for spaceflight, Dan served as Capsule Communicator (“Capcom”) in Mission Control, was a Branch Chief in the Astronaut Office’s Space Station branch, and performed other technical assignments. Originally from the Chicago area, Dan is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, having received a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering. He is a 3rd generation Japanese-American and the son of parents that were interned at the Topaz Relocation Center as part of the mandatory evacuation of Japanese descendants during World War II. A mediocre but avid golfer, he lives with his wife Jane and 3 children in Northern Virginia.


Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka

Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka

June 24, 1946 – January 28, 1986

Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but by what your mind can imagine. Make your life count – and the world will be a better place because you tried. –Ellison S. Onizuka

Imagine a young boy on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, laying on his back, staring at a star-speckled sky, and dreaming. Dreaming of someday going higher than the birds, high enough to reach and touch those distant stars above.

Following this dream, Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka became the first Asian-American astronaut to fly in space and blazed a path that began on that small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to the heavens above the Earth.

Ellison was born on June 24, 1946, in Kona, Hawaii, a simple rural community. From these humble beginnings, Ellison formulated his dream of venturing into space.

Ellison excelled in school, graduating from Konawaena High School with honors in 1964. He was also active in the 4-H Club, student council, National Honor Society, yearbook, varsity basketball and baseball, and Boy Scouts.

After graduating from high school, Ellison attended the University of Colorado, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1968, and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1969. He joined the United States Air Force as a flight engineer in 1970, and attended the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Against stiff competition (8,000 applicants), Ellison was selected in 1978 as one of 35 astronauts for NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. He was the first Japanese-American selected to participate in America’s space program.

Ellison’s dreams came to fruition after years of training and hard work. On January 24, 1985, Ellison first entered space as part of the crew of the space shuttle Discovery – America’s first classified manned military space flight. The mission was a success, and Ellison was honored as the first Asian-American astronaut to venture into space.

Soon after, Ellison was selected for Challenger Flight 51-L along with six other crew members: Dick Scobee, Mike Smith, Ronald McNair, Judith Resnik, Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. The crew of this mission was carefully chosen to reflect the spirit of America. All walks of life, backgrounds, and regions were represented on this shuttle flight, including elementary school teacher Christa McAuliffe, who would be the first civilian in space. On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifted from the earth. At 11:39 a.m., 73 seconds after liftoff, the orbiter tragically exploded, ending seven lives of ambitions, dreams, and courage.

Ellison’s story does not end here. In honor of Ellison’s memory, the Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Committee was formed by a group of concerned citizens from the Southern California community. The committee initiated this program so that the following message from Astronaut Onizuka would be heard by future generations:

If I can impress upon you only one idea . . . Let it be that the people who make this world run, whose lives can be termed successful, whose names will go down in the history books, are not the cynics, the critics, or the armchair quarterbacks. 

They are the adventurists, the explorers, and doers of this world. When they see a wrong or problem, they do something about it. When they see a vacant place in our knowledge, they work to fill that void.

Rather than leaning back and criticizing how things are, they work to make things the way they should be. They are the aggressive, the self-starters, the innovative, and the imaginative of this world.

Every generation has the obligation to free men’s minds for a look at new worlds . . . to look out from a higher plateau than the last generation.

Your vision is not limited by what your eye can see, but by what your mind can imagine. Many things that you take for granted were considered unrealistic dreams by previous generations. If you accept these past accomplishments as commonplace then think of the new horizons that you can explore. From your vantage point, your education and imagination will carry you to places which we won’t believe possible. 

Make your life count – and the world will be a better place because you tried.–Ellison S. Onizuka, 1980



Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Committee Board of Directors

Dr. Tim Stowe–President
Dan Tani–Vice President
Valerie Takata-Secretary
Dene Matsuzawa-Treasurer
Dr. Kelsey Iino–Treasurer
Dr. Amy Grant
Stephan Morikawa
Calvin Motoda
Allen Murakoshi
Lorna Onizuka
Ted Teshima
Douglas G. Tennant, Legal Advisor


The Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Memorial Committee gratefully acknowledges our donors and volunteers without whose participation this program would not be possible.


El Camino College Onizuka Space Science Day Planning Committee

Julieta Aramburo
Robin Dreizler
Dr. Amy Grant
Dr. Kelsey Iino


American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

El Camino College Foundation

NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas

Driscoll Strawberry Associates, Inc.


Dr. Brenda Thames, Superintendent/President El Camino College

Yuki Ikari, American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

Lorna Onizuka (wife of Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka)

Claude Onizuka (brother of Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka)

Session Contributors

Cheryl Abbani, Elizabeth Bermudez, Bryan Carey, Shaun Cook, John Coroneus, Sara DiFiori, Mia Dobbs, Rebecca Donegan, Pete Doucette, Kay Ferrari, Ally Freitas, Julienne Gard, Jared Head, Rebecca Hernandez, Chuck Herzig, Christopher Hirunthanakorn, Shimonee Kadakia, Ernie Kwok, Adam Majewski, Victoria Martinez, Merium Mubarak, Zeke Murdock, Jessica Ornelas, Sanda Oswald, Ann Pham, Shanna Potter, Julio Rodriguez, Laura Saldarriaga, Eliana Schoenberg, Susan Stolovy, Jonathan Stroud, Michael Stupy, Judy Valle, Karla Villatoro, Jwan Wageman, Mia Walsh, Paul Yun

El Camino College Science Students


Onizuka Memorial, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California

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