Youth involved in the Illinois 4-H Mission Control Team SPIN (Special Interest) Club will have the opportunity to define, develop, and operate a space mission. An interdisciplinary collaboration between Illinois 4-H and LASSI (Laboratory for Advanced Space Systems at Illinois, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) makes it possible for middle and high school STEM students to participate in a real satellite program and see their experiments launched into space. 

Throughout the development and implementation of this program, the Illinois 4-H STEM Team/ LASSI will work with the 4-H Mission Command Team to develop mission-specific curriculum that align with state and national STEM/CS standards. Participating youth will design curriculum and activities that will enable middle/high school aged youth from around the state to design and carry out satellite based missions in space. During the first year, the 4-H In Space Mission Command Team will develop and beta test the curriculum with 200+ youth. Participating student payloads are developed at home or with their group/club, with guidance and help from LASSI using the developed curriculum material. Students go through the curriculum, build a flight experiment, and bring their completed payload to LASSI to participate in functional and environmental testing with the satellite bus. The satellite is then delivered to the launch provider and awaits its launch. After launch, students are given access via the internet to the LASSI mission operations center allowing youth to interact with the satellite from home, providing a rich satellite operations experience for participating youth. In Year 2, the opportunity opens state-wide as a 4-H Project area reaching 2700+ youth using the curriculum/ programming materials developed in Year 1.

This is a first in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of STEM history and be a member of this SPIN club! 


This program is designed to go outside of the typical bounds of current STEM programming as it introduces youth to a variety of disciplines such as text-based coding (Computer Science), Aerospace, Mechanical Engineering & Design, Astronomy & Physics and Telecommunications.

Through the year-long SPIN Club, members will work with the Illinois STEM Team and University of Illinois Aerospace Engineering Small Satellite Team to help develop and test an Arduino based satellite called a CubeSat (CS). Each satellite will be capable of staying in orbit for several months before decaying in reentry. Youth will program specific missions for their CubeSat to perform while in orbit. The project will culminate in a live-streaming launch event in which 10 individuals will represent the team and facilitate the live event from the launch site.

Through 4-H STEM programs, youth become critical thinkers, creative problem-solvers and intelligent decision-makers.