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NASA ‘solar system ambassador’ to talk plans for spaceflight during Jan. 22 STEM Café event

January 11, 2013

NASA image of the Space Shuttle AtlantisNow that the space shuttles are museum pieces, what are NASA’s plans for future American spaceflight?

NASA Solar System Ambassador Joel Knapper will reveal the current and future plans to get Americans back into space, exploring the universe at NIU’s next STEM Café, “The Future for American Manned Spaceflight,” from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Jane Fargo Hotel, 355 W. State St. in Sycamore.

Knapper is a trained NASA volunteer who brings information to local communities about the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s explorations and discoveries related to Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, asteroids, comets, Earth and the solar system.

NIU’s STEM Cafés are casual events that offer adults an opportunity to eat, drink and chat with scientists about the latest breakthroughs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). These monthly events are free and open to the public. Food and drinks are available for purchase from Jane Fargo Hotel’s restaurant.

Thomas Sims

Thomas Sims

Another STEM Café event will be held on the topic, “Miracle Crops or Frankenfoods,” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Taxco Restaurant, 223 W. State St. in Sycamore.

Genetically modified crops have been grown in the United States for decades, but they remain controversial. Are these crops the answer to world hunger? Good for the environment? Safe to eat?

Thomas Sims, director of NIU’s Plant Molecular Biology Center, was part of the research team that produced the first genetically modified plants in the early 1980s. He will discuss the science behind genetic modification, the issues related to its use in current agricultural production and prospects for the future.

NIU’s STEM Cafés are just one of many engaging events STEM Outreach offers to the public throughout the year to increase public awareness of the critical role science and other STEM fields play in our world.

More information on upcoming STEM Cafés and other events from STEM Outreach are available online or by contacting Judith Dymond at [email protected] or (815) 753-4751.