Onizuka Space Science Day 2024

Saturday, March 16, 2024



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 Rick Mastracchio

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


2024 Onizuka Space Science Day Breakout Sessions


OPEN EVENTS (no tickets needed)


Robotics Demonstration

Christopher Hirunthanakorn – Instructor, Robotics (ECC) and Victoria Martinez – Counselor, Industry and Technology (ECC)
Come observe and participate in ECC student robotics competitions and demonstrations throughout the day with robots built by students like you!

Location – ITEC Outdoor Area


Get Your Hands on Chemistry

Laura Saldarriaga – Professor, Chemistry (ECC) and 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 Area




1 A/B Who’s Counting?

Marlow Lemons – Dean, Mathematical Sciences (ECC)
Compete for prizes by playing math games! Use logic, teamwork, and numerical ability to win fun contests. Hear about one mathematician’s journey to falling in love with numbers and becoming a math major.

Location – Chemistry (Chem) 105


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

Mia Dobbs & Travis Ramp – Professors, Anatomy and Physiology (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 Sciences (Nats) 218


3 A/B Paint Making – Prussian Blue

Pete Doucette – Professor, Chemistry and Judy Valle, Technician, Chemistry (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 Lava Lamps!

Employees of Torrance Refinery
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble! Design and create lava lamps and learn how density affects materials like liquids. Learn how the oil refining process creates products of different densities.

Location – Life Sciences (LS) 108


5 A/B Strawberry DNA

Timothy Reonisto – Instructor, 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 Sciences (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 Sciences (Nats) 129


7 A/B Fossils, Gemstones, and Minerals

Chuck Herzig & Jwan Wageman – Professors, Earth Sciences (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 Sciences (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!  Learn college microscope techniques and explore a tiny world.

Location – Life Sciences (LS) 130


9 A/B Build a Mini-Lightsaber

Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program (ECC)
Explore simple electrical circuits. Discuss current flow and resistance, and build your own mini-LED lightsaber with this Star Wars-themed STEM activity. May the Force Be With You!

Location – Physics (Phys) 108


10 A/B Primates: The Story of Us

Lawrence Ramirez – Professor, Anthropology (ECC)
What do you have in common with monkeys and apes? Explore your closest living relatives in the Animal Kingdom and what makes primates unique from other mammals with hands-on activities using skull and bone casts.

Location – Chemistry (Chem) 101


11 A/B Space Medicine

Cheryl Abbani – Lecturer, Anatomy and Physiology (ECC)
What if you caught a 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 space travel to places like Mars. Learn about radiation, microgravity, injuries, physiological changes, and microbes that are concerns a space doctor would. Discover how OMICS enhances care in space and on Earth.

Location – Natural Sciences (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 & Azul Celeste Rodriguez & Susan Stolovy – Professors, Astronomy & Physics (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 your body’s control center. Journey into the brain to learn how this 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 those used in medical schools!

Location – Life Sciences (LS) 113


15 A/B Blood–The Liquid Lifesaver

Rebecca Hernandez – Professor, Anatomy (ECC)
Blood is the liquid of life. It transports oxygen to our lungs and tissues, carries antibodies to fight infections, and helps filter toxins from our bodies. Learn about the important field of Hematology (Blood Science), and create a model of blood to take home.

Location – Life Sciences (LS) 105


16 A/B Eyes on the Solar System

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 Sciences (LS) 134


17 A/B Make Your Own Spectroscope!

Shanna Potter – Professor, Chemistry (ECC)
Investigate different types of light. After constructing your own spectroscope, examine light coming from a variety of sources including the sun, neon lamps, and fluorescent light bulbs. See how different elements glow in unique colors and use your spectroscope to identify unknown elements!

Location – Chemistry (Chem) 165


18 A/B Engineering in Space with Emerging Technology

Jose Anaya – Dean, Community Advancement and Business Training Center and Joe Weichman (ECC)
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) 133


19 A/B Sparks in Space

Staff of Columbia Memorial Space Center
Electricity is essential to everyday life. It allows us to flip a switch to light a room or generate power for our electronics. The energy produced by chemical reactions has also made innovations possible by powering electric vehicles and spacecrafts. Create your own circuit currents and get a taste of what power can really do.

Location – Chemistry (Chem) 162


20 A/B Ocean Corals, Shells, Sands, and Sharks!

Danielle Glynn & Staryl McCabe-Glynn – Lecturers, Earth Sciences (ECC)
Delve into a marine learning adventure! Craft coral reefs from Play-Doh, paint oyster shells, create sand art to explore coastal ecosystems, and engage in a shark tooth scavenger hunt. Blend creativity and education for an understanding of coral reefs, shells, sands, and sharks. Plus, you get to keep a shark tooth!

Location – Natural Sciences (Nats) 219


21 A/B Egg Drop Construction

Sanda Oswald – Professor, Anatomy & Physiology and Ernie Kwok – Lecturer, Biology (ECC)
Each pair of students will design and construct a device to safely deliver an egg dropped from 34 feet. The science 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



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

Rick Mastracchio

NASA Astronaut (Former)

Richard Mastracchio - Wikipedia

Rick Mastracchio was selected as an astronaut in 1996. The Connecticut native has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science from the University of Connecticut, a Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master of Science Degree in Physical Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Mastracchio flew on STS-106, STS-118, STS-131 and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for Expedition 38/39. He has conducted nine spacewalks totalling 53 hours. This included three unplanned spacewalks to replace a faulty cooling pump and a failed computer relay box.

Personal Data:
Born February 11, 1960, in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Graduated from Crosby High School, Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1978; received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science from the University of Connecticut in 1982, a Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1987, and a Master of Science Degree in Physical Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1991.

Mastracchio worked for Hamilton Standard in Connecticut as an engineer in the system design group from 1982 until 1987. During that time, he participated in the development of high performance, strapped-down inertial measurement units and flight control computers.

NASA Experience:
In 1987, Mastracchio moved to Houston, Texas, to work for the Rockwell Shuttle Operations Company at the Johnson Space Center. In 1990, he joined NASA as an engineer in the Flight Crew Operations Directorate. His duties included the development of space shuttle flight software requirements, the verification of space shuttle flight software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, and the development of ascent and abort crew procedures for the Astronaut Office.

From 1993 to 1996, he worked as an ascent/entry Guidance and Procedures Officer (GPO) in Mission Control. During that time, he supported seventeen missions as a Flight Controller. In April 1996, Mastracchio was selected as an Astronaut Candidate and started training in August 1996. Mastracchio has worked technical issues for the Astronaut Office Computer Support Branch, Space Station Operations, the EVA (Spacewalking) Branch and as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM). He served as the display design lead for the space shuttle cockpit avionics upgrades in 2003. From 2004 to 2009, he worked various Constellation and Orion tasks including Cockpit Design Lead, and Constellation Deputy Branch Chief.

A veteran of four spaceflights, Mastracchio flew as a Mission Specialist on STS-106 on Atlantis, STS-118 on Endeavor, STS-131 on Discovery and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. As of 2014, Mastracchio now has logged 228 days in space spanning four missions, including nine spacewalks totaling 53 hours.

Spaceflight Experience:
STS-106 Atlantis (September 8 to September 20, 2000). During the 12-day mission, the crew successfully prepared the International Space Station for the arrival of the first permanent crew. The five astronauts and two cosmonauts delivered more than 6,600 pounds of supplies and installed batteries, power converters, a toilet and a treadmill on the space station. Mastracchio was the ascent/entry flight engineer, the primary robotic arm operator, and was responsible for the transfer of items from the space shuttle to the space station. STS-106 orbited the Earth 185 times, and covered 4.9 million miles in 11 days, 19 hours, and 10 minutes.

STS-118 Endeavour (August 8 to August 21, 2007). With the STS-118 mission, Endeavour’s crew successfully added another truss segment, a new gyroscope and an external spare parts platform to the International Space Station. Mastracchio was the ascent/entry flight engineer, and as EVA lead, he participated in three of the four spacewalks. Traveling 5.3 million miles in space, the STS-118 mission was completed in 12 days, 17 hours, 55 minutes and 34 seconds.

STS-131 Discovery (April 5 to April 20, 2010). This resupply mission to the International Space Station was launched at night from the Kennedy Space Center. On arrival at the station, Discovery’s crew dropped off more than 27,000 pounds of hardware, supplies and equipment, including a tank full of ammonia coolant, new crew sleeping quarters and three experiment racks. As the EVA lead, Mastracchio performed three spacewalks during this mission and logged 20 hours and 17 minutes of spacewalks. The STS-131 mission was accomplished in 15 days, 02 hours, 47 minutes, 10 seconds, and traveled 6,232,235 statute miles in 238 orbits.

Expedition 38/39 (March 10 to May 13, 2014). Mastracchio launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station along with Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata. During his stay aboard the space station, Mastracchio conducted three spacewalks, the first two to remove and replace a faulty cooling pump, and the third to remove and replace a failed backup computer relay box. Mastracchio, Tyurin and Wakata returned to Earth after 188 days in space. During the expedition, the crew completed 3,008 orbits of the Earth and traveled more than 79.8 million miles.

Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka

June 24th, 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 Arámburo, Director of Outreach and School Relations
Dr. Amy Grant, Dean of Natural Sciences
Dr. Kelsey Iino, Professor
Andrea Sala, Director of Foundation



El Camino College Foundation
NASA Johnson Space Center, Texas


Dr. Brenda Thames, Superintendent/President El Camino College
Dr. Carlos Lopez, Vice President of Academic Affairs El Camino College
Yuki Ikari, Honda Corporate Relations
Lorna Onizuka (wife of Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka)
Claude Onizuka (brother of Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka)

Session Contributors
Cheryl Abbani, Jose Anaya, Elizabeth Bermudez, Bryan Carey, Cecil Castellucci, Kelly Christopher, John Coroneus, Mia Dobbs, Pete Doucette, Kay Ferrari, Danielle Glynn, Rebecca Hernandez, Chuck Herzig, Christopher Hirunthanakorn, Shimonee Kadakia, Ernie Kwok, Marlow Lemons, Adam Majewski, Victoria Martinez, Staryl McCabe-Glynn, Merium Mubarak, Zeke Murdock, Kerry Nguyen, Jessica Ornelas, Sanda Oswald, Ann Pham, Shanna Potter, Lawrence Ramirez, Travis Ramp, Timothy Reonisto, Azul Rodriguez, Roseanne Sachson, Laura Saldarriaga, Susan Stolovy, Michael Stupy, Adair Teller, Judy Valle, Karla Villatoro, Jwan Wageman, Joe Weichman

El Camino College Science Students

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.