Yuri’s Night at the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland Saturday evening was like no party on earth April 11.
A thousand guests dressed in all manner of science fact and fiction garb, commemorating the flight of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin, the first man in space.
“This is a great way to combine fun with science,” said GLSC President Kirsten Ellenbogen, Ph.D.
She recalled that Gargarin’s flight, which took place April 12, 1961, lasted just 108 minutes and consisted of one Earth orbit. It also marked a key piece of the Cold War space race between the USA and USSR.
Today, American astronaut Scott Kelly is traveling with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko for a one-year stay on the International Space Station. The mission began March 28 and represents the longest attempted space flight ever. Gargarin’s flight remains as the shortest manned space flight ever.
“Space flight is alive and well,” said Dr. Ellenbogen.
Dr. Ellenbogen said the Great Lakes Science Center stands a regional resource that supports learning throughout life. The cross-section of ages that attended Saturday’s gala in costume dramatically demonstrated that science centers aren’t just for children.
On special display currently is a comprehensive exhibit dedicated to the popular TV show ‘Mythbusters.’
“We are also home to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center,” notes Dr. Ellenbogen. NASA’s Glenn Research Center has contributed to many technologies that impact everyone’s life today – from plane de-icing to ensure safe air travel to nanotechnology as far removed from spaceflight as sunscreen.
Research at NASA Glenn today will allow man to reach deeper and deeper into space, eventually reaching Mars.
These challenges stand as a calling to the children of today, many who are benefitting from the GLSC’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) affiliations with school systems including Cleveland and Lorain.
The many interactive displays at the GLSC show that an experience there brings a resource of understanding to concepts taught in schools.
“We know the value of using real scientific challenges to encourage curiosity and experimentation. And we remain committed to developing the collaborations and community partnerships needed to stimulate innovation, improve STEM education, and cultivate the creative, critical thinkers who will shape the future of Northeast Ohio,” reports Dr. Ellenbogen.
“The person who will develop the next big breakthrough in space travel is a child somewhere now in Cleveland.”
Yuri’s Night is a global celebration of humanity’s past, present, and future in space. Yuri’s Night parties and events are held around the world every April in commemoration of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to venture into space on April 12, 1961, and the inaugural launch of the first Space Shuttle on April 12, 1981.