On Saturday, November 5, four Ball State students will compete in the third annual Astronomy Slam.

Hosted by the Charles W. Brown Planetarium, the Astronomy Slam is a night of presentations that are out of this world. Each student has 10 minutes to present on an astronomical topic of their choosing. They all have spent weeks researching, learning to use the planetarium projection system, designing visuals, and planning their presentations, and now these four students are ready to educate and inspire the public with a piece of the universe.

Astronomy Slam TrophiesFollowing the presentations, there will be refreshments and an interactive Q&A with the presenters while the audience votes to choose a winner in four categories: Most Visually Engaging, Best Energy, Most Thought Provoking, and overall Astronomy Slam Champion.

This friendly competition is open to any undergraduate or graduate student, in any major, that wants a unique opportunity for students to share their studies and discoveries with an engaged audience. As Melanie Isenbarger, winner of the first Astronomy Slam and current Planetarium Show Specialist puts it, “everyone has something to learn, and everyone has something to teach, and this is the best environment for both.”

Astronomy Slam Contestants

Madeline Shepley, Astronomy Slam presenter

Madeline Shepley: Constellation Warp

Madeline Shepley, a returning competitor, is a second-year graduate student in the Physics and Astronomy Department. After winning the “Most Visually Engaging presentation” award last year, she is back with hopes of winning the grand prize. This year, her presentation will offer a new look at constellations, changing the way we see them.

“It’s about breaking through the celestial sphere that surrounds us, A.K.A the sky, and seeing that the distances from what we see on Earth, are vaster than we imagined.”

Astronomy Slam presenter with constellations

Kenya Cole: Planets, Constellations, and the Night Sky

Kenya Cole is a senior Elementary Education major who works at the Planetarium. She is a first-time Astronomy Slam competitor and her presentation will cover planets as well as some constellations we’ll see in November.

“We’re going to take a closer look at Jupiter and Saturn and their storms. We will also look at Saturn’s rings and see how some of the ice chunks in the rings can be as small as a pebble or as large as a mountain.”


astronomy slam presenter with earth

Kyree Standifer: The Search for Earth-like Planets

Kyree Standifer is a junior Astronomy major. He is also a first-time competitor and his presentation will take a deep dive into Earth-like planets. This topic is brand new research for him, and he is happy to learn alongside everyone else.

“My presentation is all about finding exoplanets that look like our Earth, what that entails? You’ll have to find out.”


student presenter with stars

Caleb Whitcomb: The Life Cycle of Stars

Caleb Whitcomb is a first-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in Physics. He is a returning Astronomy Slam competitor and is looking toward a new part of the universe for this year’s presentation.

“My presentation is about the formation, birth, life, and death of stars in our universe.”

Come watch these four competitors on November 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the Charles W. Brown Planetarium, you can buy tickets online here. Under the starlit dome, ideas will be shared, discoveries will be made, and snacks will be had at the 2022 Astronomy Slam.