It was a starry night at the Charles W. Brown Planetarium Saturday at 6:30 p.m. where the third annual Astronomy Slam was held. The event started in 2020, in the midst of COVID-19.
Astronomy Slam is a competition where four students discuss four different phenomena in our solar system.
Kyree Standifer, a Ball State undergraduate student working towards a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy, was declared the 2022 Astronomy Slam Champion with their presentation “The Search for Another Earth.” Standifer’s presentation conveyed that other planets, or exoplanets, may be able to host living different life forms.
“I honestly just wanted to use this as a gateway to learn more about astronomy, and my inspiration for the project actually comes from an old colleague of mine,” Standifer said. “ I worked back in 2020 at the Adler Planetarium and [the colleague] was with me throughout literally the entire internship with the open space program, and she actually focused on exoplanets. So that really just gave me the inspiration to learn more.”
Kenya Cole, a Ball State University undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, took the audience on a journey through space, traveling to Jupiter and Saturn and the particles that revolve around them. Cole further explained the elements of the planets and what created them. Her visual display titled “A Tour of the Sky” coincided with her presentation, which lead her to win the “Most Visually Engaging” award.
Caleb Whitcomb, a Ball State graduate student en route to achieving his master's degree in physics, expanded on the life cycle of stars. Whitcomb described the components of a star and how they are created. Whitcomb’s informative presentation---that kept the audience engaged-- “The Life Cycle of Stars,” landed him the “Most Thought-Provoking” award.
In a display titled “Constellation Warp: Breaking Through the Celestial Sphere,” Madeline Shepley, a Ball State graduate student also seeking a master’s degree in physics, described the different perspectives of the varying solar systems, using Ursa Major as a focal point. Shepley’s showmanship in conveying the perspective of the celestial sphere led her to win the “Best Energy” award for the evening.
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