NASA Scholar, Live Fire Demo


NASA Scholar

When asked about what she did this summer, Harper College student Kristen O'Mara issues a disclaimer. She might be a little long-winded answering, she warns, but she can't help it: She gets excited when she's talking about Mars. The North Aurora resident and mathematics major was one of only 180 students nationwide, and the only one from Illinois, selected for NASA's Community College Aerospace Scholars program - a summer endeavor that had her planning a detailed Mars mission, complete with research on the feasibility of human exploration and a drawing of a rover that could perform planetary experiments. Her work earned her one of only 48 spots in a second, on-site program this fall; she'll spend three days at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. in November developing a prototype Mars rover and presenting that project to NASA engineers. "I knew this program would be an amazing opportunity to expand my knowledge of astronomy and NASA, and I initially had no expectation even of being accepted," says O'Mara, who will transfer this spring to Northwestern University with a goal of eventually earning a Ph.D. "There are so many things about NASA and astronomy that interest me. We know a lot about the universe, but there is so much more that we don't know. So much is a mystery, and that makes it so intriguing to me." O'Mara honed her interest in astronomy through a Harper course last semester, and applied for the NASA program on the urging of Associate Professor Bhasker Moorthy, who O'Mara says has a "contagious passion" for the subject. Since earning a spot in the competitive program, she's communicated regularly with NASA employees - studying math, science, engineering and computer science with their online guidance - and developed a proposed $670 million Mars mission she says could serve as a precursor to human exploration. The rover she conceptualized is fitted with devices to assess radiation levels on the Martian surface, measure the effects of radiation on red blood cells and analyze the chemical weathering of the planet's rocky surface to discover its climate history. She hopes to someday work for NASA, and potentially teach related courses to college students.

Media Note: For an interview with or a photograph of O'Mara, contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, at 847.925.6159 or kpohl@harpercollege.edu. Her sketch of her proposed Mars rover also is available.

 

Live Fire Demo

A fire that erupts in a home with no sprinkler system can blaze for critical, life-changing minutes, reducing a room to flames and smoke before firefighters can make it to the scene. Sprinklers can extinguish the blaze quickly on their own, often before emergency crews arrive. Harper College's Fire Science Technology Department will stage a live, public demonstration of that difference, igniting a small fire in two outdoor life-size room chambers - one with sprinklers installed, and one without. The demo, a lesson for Harper's fire science students and the community, will be staged at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 8 outside Buildings G and H on the east side of Harper's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. The two chambers, erected side by side and furnished like living rooms, will be set ablaze and extinguished by Palatine firefighters in full gear. The public is encouraged to watch the fires unfold. "Time is the biggest enemy in any fire, and demonstrations like this one are outstanding illustrations of the drastic difference that sprinkler systems can make," says Professor Sam Giordano, coordinator of Harper's Fire Science Technology Department. "It's vital for our students to see this demonstration, and it's equally important for local residents to see it and to understand the importance of sprinkler systems." Sprinklers are mandated for new homes in some suburbs, but plenty of others have no such rule, Giordano says. Each year, more than 4,000 Americans die and 20,000 are injured in fires - with the vast majority of fatal fires occurring in private homes. For more information on the demonstration or Harper's Fire Science program, call 847.925.6379.

Media Note: For an idea of what the Harper sprinkler demonstration will look like, reporters and photographers can visit https://youtu.be/FVg-eLqYsJg. Instructors and students from Harper's growing Fire Science Technology program will attend. For more information, contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, at 847.925.6159 or kpohl@harpercollege.edu.


Special Needs Classes

Harper College is launching a collection of courses aimed specifically at adults with intellectual disabilities - magic, culinary, physical fitness and art classes that come on the heels of a popular special needs cooking course the College offered a year ago. The classes, intended as personal enrichment courses for adults with intellectual disabilities, are noncredit and will be taught in a small-group format, with lessons tailored to the students' needs. "We know there is a tremendous community need for this kind of instruction," Continuing Education Manager Scott Cashman says. "These classes are designed to help students learn new skills. Some are fun, and some are more serious." The concept was introduced last year when John Filler, Harper's manager of dining and conference services and the father of an adult daughter with Down Syndrome, suggested offering an introductory cooking class geared toward adults with intellectual disabilities. That class, which had students crafting salads and sandwiches and learning the basics of kitchen sanitation and organization, was the only one of its kind in the area - and became so popular the College had to add seats to accommodate the high demand. "I was confident that classes like that could be a great way for my daughter and others to master important concepts while also meeting peers and forging friendships," Filler said. "That's exactly what happened, and it was wonderful to watch them learn." This fall's offerings include beginning and seasonal cooking - enrollment is full for those classes already - as well as a two-dimensional art class (7:15 to 8:15 p.m. Thursdays, October 20 to November 17; $59 in tuition and fees), a beginning magic class (6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, September 8 to October 13; $79 in tuition and fees), a basic baking course (6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, October 18 to December 6; $129 in tuition and fees) and a class aimed at sports, exercise and nutrition (2 to 4 p.m. Saturdays, September 24 to October 15; $69 in tuition and fees). Registration is open now. To register or for more information, call the Continuing Education Department, 847.925.6300.

Media Note: Reporters and photographers are welcome to sit in on classes. For interviews with students or parents who were involved in last year's pilot class or who have enrolled this fall, contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159 or kpohl@harpercollege.edu.


Laughing Class

A college class is typically no laughing matter. This one is. Harper College this fall is offering a free three-part, open-to-all class aimed at laughing your way to a better life. The course kicks off with a public performance by comedian Dobie Maxwell, whose credits include an appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Subsequent sessions are focused on being funnier in day-to-day life - from the workplace to the family room - and using humor to make day-to-day life more upbeat. Cheryl O'Donoghue, a member of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, will head up that final session, offering simple tools for using humor and laughter to bring added joy and prosperity to your personal and professional life. Maxwell himself will tackle the workshop aimed at making participants funnier people. "It's always been said that laughter is the best medicine, and that's essentially the stance that this series takes," Continuing Education Manager Scott Cashman says. "We'll teach people how to be funnier, and then teach them how to parlay that into a healthy life." "From Humor to Health: Comedy and Healthy Living" is being offered free to the community through Harper's Continuing Education department. Maxwell's performance is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 28 in Room A238, Building A on Harper's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. His comedy workshop follows, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. in Room D296b, Building D. O'Donoghue's session runs from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 5 in Room D296b, Building D. To register, call 847.925.6300. For free tickets to Maxwell's performance only, call 847.925.6100 or visit www.harpercollege.edu/boxoffice. Information regarding future discounted Continuing Education course options can be found on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/HarperCollegeCE.

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu.

 

Photo Opportunities

Event: Live fire sprinkler demonstration
Date:
7 p.m. Thursday, September 8
Location:
Outside Buildings G and H on the east side of campus
Press Contact
: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu

Event: Hullaballoo: Fall expo of campus clubs and organizations
Date:
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, September 13
Location:
Harper Quad, between Buildings L, F and D
Press Contact
: Terry Karow, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist, 847.925.6627, kpohl@harpercollege.edu

 
Event:
Performance by comedian Dobie Maxwell: the kickoff of a new humor class
Date:
6:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 28
Location:
Room A238, Building A
Press Contact
: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159, kpohl@harpercollege.edu