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Museum adds Lunar Rover for Outreach, Exhibit

Full-size, drivable rover to arrive Thursday

(WAPAKONETA, OH – April 28, 2016) — Students and staff from Ohio Northern University (ONU) will deliver a drivable, full-size lunar rover replica to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum on Thursday, May 5. The rover is the result of three years of work by students from ONU’s Smull College of Engineering.

The rover seats two, can travel at 10 miles per hour, and includes authentic accessories like an antenna and tool storage. The Museum plans to use the vehicle for rover outreach engagements, for special events, and to participate in parades.

 “It’s amazing that we will now have this realistic and working vehicle for outreach events. I don’t know how many other museums can drive their own lunar rovers,” said Chris Burton, executive director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. “Hopefully, this rover will inspire the next generation of engineers and astronauts to pursue their dreams in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

 “I would hope that seeing a project like this would inspire young kids in some way,”
 said Alec Flemming,
an ONU senior mechanical engineering major from Powell, Ohio. “If they’re interested in math or science, they might say, ‘This is really cool. Maybe I could do this some day.’”

The project posed numerous challenges for the Ohio Northern team. NASA designed the lunar rover for use on the Moon, in 1/6 of Earth’s gravity. The museum’s rover would, of course, have to operate in 1G. Tires of wire mesh could support the reduced weight on the Moon, but would not suffice for streets on Earth. The University’s student project manager and team members needed to address each issue to balance physics, financial considerations, authenticity, and other real-world limitations.

“I hope the people who encounter the rover are able to experience exactly what the astronauts felt,” said Eric Dicke, an ONU senior mechanical engineering major from New Bremen, Ohio. “We tried to make it aesthetically as close to the actual rover as we possibly could.”

Twenty-three Ohio Northern students spent more than 3,000 documented hours on the project. The project spanned six consecutive semesters and involved students in mechanical, electrical, computer, and civil engineering as well as the college’s new engineering education major. The rover cost an estimated $19,000 to build, with funds and materials provided by ONU’s Archer Memorial Fund, the Ohio Space Grant Consortium, and Polaris Industries.

The lunar rover will join its cousin “Curio” at the Museum. Almost exactly three years ago, the University delivered a 1:4 scale working model of Curiosity, the rover currently exploring Mars.



Ohio Northern University has a 93 percent job and graduate school placement rate. Its long-standing success is partly because of excellent professors, partly because of ambitious students, and partly because the University has always been rooted in the future. At ONU, students move toward a career long before they graduate – and ONU’s alumni successes prove it. With top-ranked programs and opportunities outside the classroom, any path a student chooses at ONU will be grounded in concrete applications for the future. Established in 1871 and comprised of five colleges (Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Engineering, Pharmacy, and Law), ONU’s beautiful residential campus is made up of more than sixty modern residences and academic buildings and provides a vibrant campus experience.

 Students in the T.J. Smull College of Engineering at Ohio Northern are improving the world by finding new ways to design, build and use technology. The college is ranked among the top 50 undergraduate engineering schools in the nation, and its engineering education major is one of the first of its kind. Students at ONU receive experiential, hands-on learning in small-classroom settings with dedicated, accessible professors. The college’s model starts with people, and it builds educational experiences around the individual needs of each. Beyond analytical skills, the college embraces the human skills its students need as professionals and as people – how to communicate successfully, develop personal relationships, and effectively lead a team.

A Cosmic Christmas at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum

December 10, 4–6 PM

(WAPAKONETA, OH –December 4, 2015) —The Armstrong Air & Space Museum will welcome families on December 10 to celebrate a Cosmic Christmas open house from 4-6 pm.

Children can participate in story time with a special coordinating project (every half hour), and create and take home a unique ornament. All visitors are welcome to enjoy caroling and complimentary cocoa and cookies.

Santa Claus is scheduled to visit the museum for Cosmic Christmas and will gladly visit with children in the Modern Space Gallery for the entirety of the event. The classroom and museum store are also decked for the holidays and the museum’s Christmas tree features dozens of spaceships, airplanes, and astronauts.

Regular admission rates apply for the event, but every family or individual will receive a pass to visit the museum again, during normal exhibit operations. “We held a similar event several years ago, but we really hope that people embrace this idea and ask us to make it a new annual tradition,” said Chris Burton, executive director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.

The Holiday Lights Display will begin at dusk, approximately 5:30 this week. Guests are encouraged to enjoy the display upon leaving the event, or nightly through January 31.

The display contains 35,000 total lights and features five rope-light sculptures from 7’ to 20’ high. Visitors are welcome to explore the many elements across the grounds, but asked to please refrain from touching lights, sculptures, or cords.



Art & Armstrong exhibit opens at Museum


New exhibit features works produced in celebration of the moon landing


WAPAKONETA, OH (November 1, 2015) — The Armstrong Air & Space Museum’s Modern Space Gallery is now home to “Art & Armstrong,” a collection on 23 works of art created to celebrate the first lunar landing in 1969.


The new exhibit was curated by Samantha Green and Mitchell Dorsten, both Wright State University graduate students. They interned over the summer at the museum – Dorsten in exhibits and Green in collections. Green discovered the artwork during an assessment of the collections in storage. With Dorsten, they selected new works to be exhibited, emphasizing the range both in media and artistic background of the museum’s collections.


The works now on exhibit include pencil drawings, prints, oil paintings, wood carvings, and a cross-stitched sampler. The artists include Norman Rockwell, a 13-year-old girl, a commission of the state of Oregon, and a parishioner of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Wapakoneta.


“Art & Armstrong” is a permanent installation, but select artifacts may be rotated due to condition or variety. The artwork was donated to Mr. Armstrong or directly to the museum following the moon landing and represents the tremendous outpouring of unbridled excitement and artistic inspiration across the world. The museum collections include over 300 works of art.


Green and Dorsten are second-year students in the public history program at WSU. Having already completed their 300-hour internships, both will return to the museum this fall and winter for a capstone project that will include a new exhibit highlighting recent robotic exploration of Mars by rovers Curiosity, Opportunity, and Spirit.


Museum Educators travel the state talking heroes

Summer Reading Programs take over local libraries

WAPAKONETA, OH (June 24, 2015) — Usually people travel from across the state (and world) to visit the museum. This summer, the museum is traveling to them.

From inner-city Dayton to suburban Columbus to rural Holmes County, Armstrong Air & Space Museum staff is touring the state, delivering nearly 100 programs at over 80 public libraries. The topics vary, but always connect to the statewide theme, “Every Hero has a Story.”

Most programs focus on one of three topics: gravity, flight, and astronauts. The museum staff takes a variety of equipment with them for each program, including a portable wind tunnel, hula hoops, retractable text panels, and replica Apollo spacesuit. In addition to discussing the space- and flight-based material, the presenters also introduce the museum and encourage library patrons to visit Wapakoneta.

“The programs have been very well received by the librarians and by the children,” said museum educator Emily Green. “They always ask such interesting questions.”

Well over 1,000 children have already participated in summer reading programs by the museum. The Dayton Metro Libraries scheduled the most programs (20). The final program will be in Lancaster on July 31.


Space Camp 2014 begins August 4

Week-long camp concludes with model rocket launch on Friday

WAPAKONETA, OH (August 4, 2014) — Over 50 children from five counties and three other states will participate in a week’s worth of activities centered on aviation and space exploration at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. The final activity will be Friday morning when the astronauts in training will launch the model rockets that they built earlier in the week.

Over the next five days, the children will explore the museum, learn about the principles of flight and airplane safety, design their own mission patches, build and launch model rockets, fly in a real airplane, and participate in astronaut PT (physical training) each morning.

The participants hail from Wapakoneta, Lima, St. Marys, New Bremen, Bluffton, New Knoxville, Waynesfield, Ridgeway, Eastlake; Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. Children and parents will be on hand for the rocket launch, lunch, and commencement ceremony Friday, from 11:45-2. We ask that you please speak with the parent or guardian before interviewing the Space Camper.

This is the fourth year for Space Camp at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum and largest class to date (twice as large as last year’s). The camp, which is daily from 9 am to 2 pm, is for participants from the second through seventh grades. The Museum’s Space Camps has been sponsored by Connect a Million Minds, a Time Warner Cable initiative. Thanks go to Cory Lykins for his design of the Space Camp logo.


DATE: Thursday, August 7

TIME: 10:00 AM (weather permitting)

LOCATION: Neil Armstrong Airport


DATE: Friday, August 8

TIME: 12:15 PM (weather permitting)

LOCATION: Armstrong Air & Space Museum


Classic Sci-Fi Robot to visit Museum

The Armstrong Air & Space Museum's commemoration of the 45th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission will include a special guest from the world of 1960s television: the ROBOT from the classically campy Lost in Space. ROBOT will participate in a meet-and-greet with the public on Saturday, July 19, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Museum.

Created and produced by Irwin Allen, the 83 episodes of Lost in Space appeared on CBS Television from 1965 through 1968. The program is set in 1997 America, where the Robinson family embarks upon what is supposed to be a five-and-a-half month journey on the saucer-shaped Jupiter 2. Its destination: the star Alpha Centauri. However, the mission is sabotaged, sending the family and its faithful robot on a series of adventures in the far reaches of space.

Prior to his recurring appearance on Lost in Space, a version of ROBOT also appeared in the classic science fiction thriller Forbidden Planet. The ROBOT who will visit the Armstrong Museum Saturday is a full-sized and completely faithful reproduction of the original.

The Armstrong Air & Space Museum is located just west of I-75 at exit 111 (Bellefontaine Street) at 500 Apollo Dr in Wapakoneta, Ohio, approximately 60 miles north of Dayton, 90 miles south of Toledo, and 75 miles northwest of Columbus on US 33. Wapakoneta is centrally located among Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis.

The Armstrong Air & Space Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 am to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Noon to 5 pm (hours will change in October). Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $4 for children 6-12, and free to children 5 and under. Military discounts are available to all active-duty military personnel.

The  Museum is owned by the State of Ohio, is part of the Ohio History Connection's statewide system of historic sites and museums, and is operated by the local Armstrong Air and Space Museum Association.

Contact: Armstrong Museum director Chris Burton, 738-8811


Armstrong Air & Space Museum program receives award

Outreach to Shelby County best in Ohio

(WAPAKONETA, OH –April 9, 2014) —On Sunday evening, the Ohio Museums Association awarded the Armstrong Air & Space Museum for best education/outreach program at the association’s annual conference in Athens, Ohio.

The award-winning program was the Shelby County Enrichment Program. The museum’s education staff visits weekly with gifted third and fourth graders after school. Over a ten-week period, the students develop critical thinking skills as they tackle hands-on challenges, like landing a load safely or staging a rocket for greater sustained lift.

The program began as a partnership between the museum, Shelby County local school districts, and the Shelby County Educational Service Center (ESC). The Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce provided a grant to subsidize the cost for participating districts. After the first year, when districts continued the program without financial support, the museum realized the program was popular with local decision makers and sustainable.

The enrichment program targets students in small rural districts. Many of these districts do not have resources for gifted enrichment. Each school’s program ends with a 4-hour visit to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum and the students launching model rockets they built themselves. In the program’s three years, Anna, Botkins, Fort Loramie, Hardin-Houston, Jackson Center, and Russia have participated.

“Students have truly enjoyed analyzing the issues and challenges related to space exploration through the interpretation of real world scenarios,” Shawn McElroy, director of organizational development for the Shelby County ESC, wrote in his letter of support for the award.

Museum educator Emily Richard commented, “I hear from the teachers that students are always excited to start and they have something to look forward to every week.” That anticipation and response from the participants makes driving across Shelby County once or twice a week much easier for Emily.

The best education/outreach award is awarded to OMA members in two categories based on an institution’s annual budget. The Armstrong Museum competed in the under $500,000 classification.


WSU Student Builds Archive

(WAPAKONETA, OH –November 19, 2013) —Student Paul Ciaravolo has spent the last two months sorting, reading, and rehousing four large boxes of documents, letters, and photographs. This will be the basis for the new museum archive: a repository of materials related to the museum’s origin, construction, and operation, Neil Armstrong, the moon landing, and space exploration.

Paul is a graduate student at Wright State University in the public history program and has spent over 150 hours building the archive. The public history program prepares students for work in archives, historical societies, and museums. Paul's work at the museum satisfies a graduation requirement. Museum executive director Chris Burton is a graduate of the public history program at WSU.

Paul created four collections within the new museum archive, including historic documents related to the museum's construction and opening and another for correspondence between Viola Armstrong (Neil's mother) and the museum. Another collection chronicles the designs of the museum’s annual commemorative covers and postal cancellations. These boxes of materials are now organized and labeled, housed in non-acidic folders and boxes, and described in finding aids so that they can be more easily located and used by museum staff and future researchers.

The museum will make the collections available to the public for reference and research. The archive is currently located in the museum’s basement, but director Chris Burton hopes to soon move it to an area accessible to all visitors.

For more information on the public history program at Wright State University, contact director Dawne Dewey at (937) 775-2011 or go to


Rocky Horror Picture Show at Armstrong

Midnight Movie Series features cult classic

(WAPAKONETA, OH –October 10, 2013) —The Armstrong Air & Space Museum will host what is sure to be its most popular installment of the midnight movie series this weekend with The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The 1975 cult classic was a box office flop but enjoyed immense popularity in midnight screenings. In 2005, it was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Admission is $6, but a 50% discount is available for those who arrive in Rocky costume. Common theater refreshments like popcorn, candy, and sodas will be available for purchase. Association members will be admitted free.

Guests are invited to bring props, but please no rice, confetti, or lighters. Prop kits will also be available for purchase at the museum.

Doors open at 11:00 Saturday night and the film will begin at midnight.

The museum will be open 9:30-5 on Monday, October 14, in celebration of Columbus Day. Explorers of all kinds will be commemorated.

The Armstrong Air & Space Museum is now open six days per week: Tuesday to Saturday 9:30-5 and 12-5 on Sunday.

For more information, contact executive director Chris Burton at or 419-738-8811.


Museum completes solar system garden

Rock planets installed over summer

(WAPAKONETA, OH –September 19, 2013) —The 115-foot-long flower garden in the parking lot of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum has been reborn as an outdoor interpretive display.

The once barren landscape is now the solar system garden, a horticultural and geological representation of the solar system. Rocks represent the sun and each of the eight planets. Each of the rocks is identified both by its name and astronomical symbol in a color that reflects the planet’s atmosphere.

“While it is not to scale per se, it is representational of both the size of the planets and their distance to the sun,” said museum executive director Chris Burton.

The flower bed was first improved in 2010 when the city removed thistle-invested dirt and provided a new soil base. The Roots n Shoots Garden Club then created a landscape plan for the area and planted shrubs, perennials, and bulbs. The final step occurred this summer when Wapak Monuments, which also sponsored the project, carved and installed 9 rocks representing the solar system.

The project was supported by Wapak Monuments. The rocks were carefully selected from the business’ large inventory to mimic the relative size of each planet. Then each rock was evaluated for both an engraving surface and a base. The smaller rocks were mounted with rebar to prevent rolling. Finally, workers from Wapak Monuments transported each piece across Bellefontaine St. and placed each in the appropriate order. The sun and outer planets each required a hydraulic lift as the sun weighs more than 800 pounds.

The garden will be a key feature to the grounds, allowing visitors to tour the solar system from sunrise to sunset and free of charge.

“It’s important for us to provide services even when touring the museum is not possible, either due to lack of funds or limited hours of operation,” Burton said. “ If you drive by at 7:30, we still want you to have an enjoyable and informative experience.”


Space Camp Commencement, Rocket Launch Tomorrow

Week-long camp concludes with model rocket launch at Museum

WAPAKONETA, OH (August 8, 2013) — Twenty-four students from west central Ohio and beyond participated in a week’s worth of activities centered on aviation and space exploration at the Ohio Historical Society's Armstrong Air & Space Museum. The final activity will be Friday morning when the launching the model rockets that the campers built themselves.

Over the last four days, the children have toured the museum, designed their own mission patches, learned about the principles of flight and airplane safety, launched water rockets, experienced simulated weightlessness in a pool, piloted the Wright Flyer simulator, and participated in astronaut PT (physical training) each morning.

The participants hail from Lima, Wapakoneta, New Knoxville, New Bremen, Spencerville, St. Marys, Delphos, Anna, Lakeview, Eastlake, Southgate, Michigan, and Olathe, Colorado.

This is the third year for Space Camp at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum and largest class to date. The camp, which has been daily from 9 am to 1 pm, is for participants from the third through sixth grade. The Museum’s Space Camps has been sponsored by Connect a Million Minds, a Time Warner Cable initiative. Thanks go to the Wapakoneta Family YMCA for use of its pool and to Cory Lykins for his design of the new Space Camp logo.


Historic Base Ball returns to Futuristic Museum

(WAPAKONETA, OH –July 16, 2013) — This weekend's Summer Moon Festival in Wapakoneta will include what has become a new tradition: old-fashioned baseball.
On Sunday afternoon (July 21) at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum, local celebrities will take on traveling teams in base ball by 1860s rules, including no gloves!  The ladies will play at noon, while the gentlemen play at 2 p.m. Local participants include museum executive director Chris Burton, Memorial High School teacher Chad Doll, Village of Minster Administrator Don Harrod, Village of New Knoxville Administrator Rex Katterheinich, Auglaize County Sheriff Al Solomon, Your Hometown Lima Stations Meteorologist Kyle Adams, Wapakoneta Daily News Sports Editor Brad Frank, Bayliff & Eley funeral home director Matthew Eley, Wapakoneta City Councilor Randy Fisher, as well as Adult Library Services Coordinator Andrea Burton, Wapakoneta Chamber of Commerce associate Lindsay Zielonka,  PT Works' Sandy Huffman, Emma and Allison Nolte, and Miss Summer Moon pageant contestants Sarah Foor, Carly Schneider, and Courtney Fisher.
The games are free, so bring your lawn chairs or a blanket and enjoy Sunday afternoon at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.
For additional information about vintage base ball particulars, please contact Christopher Burton at the Armstrong Museum, 738-8811.

Ohio Northern students build rover for Museum

¼ scale Curiosity to be delivered Thursday

(WAPAKONETA, OH –May 8, 2013) —Ohio Northern University students began a new course and project last year – to build a working, scaled model of the Mars rover Curiosity and deliver it to the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.

As the engineering students near the end of the academic year, so too does the ¼ scale Curiosity rover near its own matriculation. The students are part of the first-year EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service) program. ONU students will deliver the rover to the museum Thursday, May 9, at 3 pm.

The rover model features real, working components like a camera, laser pointer, and moving mast. It was based on actual schematics for NASA’s Curiosity rover, provided by Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) which built the rover for NASA.

Though Curiosity stands 9.5 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds, the scaled model will be able to fit into a hatchback or crossover vehicle and could be carried by a single person. The EPICS students also manufactured the rover’s custom carrying case.

“We’re very pleased to add this amazing feature to our exhibits and outreach programs,” said Chris Burton, executive director of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum. It’s rare that something so recent can be incorporated into an exhibit. This may be the first scale, working model at any museum.”

"I am very proud of the EPICS Mars Rover team at Ohio Northern University,” said Dr. Eric Baumgartner, dean of the T.J. Smull College of Engineering. “The students worked extremely hard to produce a working model of the Curiosity rover and they learned much along the way. For a number of students, this is the very first time they have designed, fabricated, integrated and delivered such a complex system. This type of high-impact learning opportunity is a hallmark of an ONU engineering education.”

The rover, nicknamed “Curio”, will make its public debut at the Vectren Dayton Air Show on the last weekend in June. It will make its first outdoor appearance in Wapakoneta at the Summer Moon Festival. It will be available for high school demonstrations in the fall.

EPICS is a unique program in which teams of undergraduates are designing, building, and deploying real systems to solve engineering-based problems for local community service and education organizations. EPICS was founded at Purdue University in 1995 and has now been adopted by 20 engineering schools in the U.S. More information can be found at





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The museum is owned by the State of Ohio, is part of the Ohio History Connection's statewide system of historic sites and museums, and is operated by the local Armstrong Air and Space Museum Association. Neil Armstrong was never involved in the management of the museum nor benefited from it in any way.

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