The Parkland College Blog

Staerkel Planetarium to Host "Dark November" Events

Dark Matter topic for show premiere, science talks

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The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will celebrate "Dark November" with three events on the topic of Dark Matter.
Kaler Science Talk
First, University of Illinois astronomer Jeff Filippini will give a talk titled "The Dark Universe" as part of the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series. His presentation will be Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. Admission is $2 at the door, with free admission for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.
Over the past several decades, astronomers have been driven to a remarkable conclusion: The objects seen through telescopes form only the tiniest portion of the stuff of this Universe. The vast majority of the Universe is in unseen forms, different from anything known from the laboratory. Galaxies and galaxy clusters are held together by the gravitational pull of invisible clouds of Dark Matter, while a mysterious force called "Dark Energy" drives the Universe to expand ever faster. Dr. Filippini will take the audience on a tour of this invisible universe, from the evidence for its presence to the ongoing search to understand its nature.
Filippini is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University and his PhD at University of California, Berkeley, where he searched for Dark Matter using advanced detectors located deep underground. After a postdoctoral position at California Institute of Technology, he arrived at UIUC in 2015. His research probes the history and workings of our cosmos using sensitive cryogenic detectors deployed at the South Pole and aboard stratospheric balloons.
Show Premiere
The Staerkel Planetarium opens a new fall show on Dark Matter called "Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter" at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2. The show will run Friday and Saturday nights until the Thanksgiving weekend, when it will be replaced by "Season of Light."
From the journey of protons racing through the world's largest particle collider in Europe to up-close views of the Big Bang and emergent universe and the nearly mile-deep descent to an underground experiment in South Dakota, this planetarium show is designed to immerse audiences in the search for this elusive material. The hunt is on! Narrated by Tilda Swinton.
"Phantom of the Universe" tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students, seniors and children under 12, with free admission for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.
UIUC scientist Dr. Lauren Pearce will give a talk entitled "Dark Matter: Why Do We Think It's Out There?" Thursday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. Her talk, part of the monthly Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society meeting at the Staerkel Planetarium, is free of charge.
For centuries, astronomers have used their telescopes to study the wonders of the universe: planets, stars, galaxies, etc. In the last century, however, astronomers have started studying something they can’t see in their telescopes: Dark Matter. Pearce will examine the lines of evidence that have convinced astronomers Dark Matter is in fact out there. Audience members will even discover a little about its properties and, time permitting, will discuss some ideas about what it could be.
Pearce is a post-doctoral researcher and Fortner Fellow at the UIUC. She is a theoretical cosmologist whose work incorporates particle physics. Her current research focuses include connecting Higgs physics to the generation of the Universe’s matter/antimatter asymmetry and using the cosmic microwave background radiation to constrain interactions between the hypothesized inflation and other fundamental particles. Previously, she has worked on self-interacting Dark Matter models. A native of western Pennsylvania, she completed her PhD at UCLA and was previously a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota. 

A calendar of shows and presentations is available at the planetarium website.

Softball Recognized By NFCA for Academic Achievement

Ten Cobras receive individual honors

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The 2017-18 Parkland softball team was recognized for its academic excellence on Monday, Oct. 3, as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association named its top teams and individuals for the previous academic year.

The Cobras finished 11th among two-year colleges with a combined GPA of 3.47, while 10 players garnered individual Easton/ NFCA Scholar-Athlete honors. 

The 10 players that led the Cobras to the team honor were NFCA Scholar-Athlete honorees Brigette BeltLauren BlockMadyson ButkauskasKirbie MendenhallMorgan Parrish, Makalya Reedy, Breanna Riemenschneider, Lauren SpelichTori Witruk and Shelby Youngblood. Butkauskas and Spelich each finished the 2017-18 year with an unblemished 4.0 GPA. 

In order to be eligible for the individual honor, players had to maintain a 3.50 GPA or higher during the academic school year. In total, 6.280 athletes received the honor, 553 from two-year colleges. Among Region 24 teams, Parkland was the only team to earn the honor.

Complete List of Honorees | Academic Teams

[Article by Chad Beyler]

Cobras Clinch Share of M-WAC Title, Shutout Lincoln Land

Cobras defeat Loggers, 2-0

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The Parkland men's soccer team clinched a share of the 2018 Mid-West Athletic Conference title with a 2-0 shutout of Lincoln Land on Oct. 2.

Owning a 3-1 conference record, Francisco Andrade's first half game-winner insured the Cobras of its fourth straight M-WAC regular season championship, fifth in the last six seasons.

The program's seventh M-WAC Championship, it's the Cobras' sixth under head coach Mark Sikora. Having completed their four conference matches of the season, the Cobras will await the outcomes of the remaining conference matches to see if they will win the title outright.

An evenly matched first half saw a combined seven shots on goal between the two squads, four by the Loggers and three from the Cobras. In the 35thminute, Parkland broke through when freshman Yu Sasaki connected with Andrade to break the scoreless tie. For Andrade it was his second goal of the season, while the assist by Sasaki tied him for the team lead (10) that also ranks third nationally.

"We had to grind out a difficult first half due to a much improved Lincoln Land team, and 20 mile-per-hour winds in our face," Sikora said. "Lorenzo Giaretti kept us in the match with some great saves throughout the first half. We were able to break through a tough defense with Francisco [Andrade], but the rest of the half was pretty even."

Starting the second half with a 1-0 lead, Parkland was able to control the possession game for the final 45 minutes. Only allowing Lincoln Land one shot on goal, the Cobras were able to add an insurance goal on one of their five second-half shots. Scoring his first goal of the season, freshman center Tyler Arias found the back of the net in the 58th minute.

"[The] second half we were able to control the match and make chances," Sikora explained. "We got very good shifts from Tyler Arias, who also scored a penalty, and Colby Woolcott who brought great energy to the team. Not our best performance overall, but it was enough to move forward."

Saving each of the five shots put on frame against him, Parkland goalie Lorenzo Giaretti earned his fifth shutout of the season. Giaretti and the Cobras also fended off four Lincoln Land corner kicks.

Up next, the Cobras will be back in action on Monday, Oct. 8, as they travel to face the University of Indianapolis Reserves. The match is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Central Time.

[Article by Chad Beyler]

Film Screening of "An Inconvenient Truth" Sequel Oct. 10

Free event part of LEED Silver Celebration of Student Union

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As part of the LEED Silver Celebration of its Student Union, Parkland College will host a free showing of the film "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" featuring former Vice President Al Gore Oct. 10 at noon in the Student Union lounge.

The Office of Student Life, the Parkland College Library, and the Sustainable Campus Student Club are cosponsoring this event, which is open to the public and includes free popcorn.

A decade after "An Inconvenient Truth" brought the climate crisis into the heart of popular culture, this riveting and rousing followup shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes, in moments both private and public, funny and poignant, as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion. 

The film is presented by Paramount Pictures and Participant Media, produced by Actual Films and directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk.

For more information, contact Josh Clark, activities program manager for Student Life, at 217/353-2627.

Explore Parkland College academic programs, campus life, support services and more during the school's annual Fall Open House.

This event will take place Friday, Nov. 2 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Student Union atrium and in the L and H buildings for its Health Professions programs.

Designed for high school students, parents of college-bound students, and community members, the Parkland College Fall Open House allows visitors to tour the campus; have their questions answered from admissions, financial aid, and counseling representatives; view student demonstrations and explore the college's innovative features. Breakout sessions on financial aid and the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program also will take place during the open house.

For those interested in criminal justice or forensic science, the Parkland College Forensic Science Lab in Room X104 will be open for public viewing from noon to 2 p.m. that day. The science behind criminal investigation is more challenging and satisfying than popular media portray. Students can view the tools of the trade including fingerprinting techniques, DNA gels and skeletal remains, and an instructor will be on hand to talk about the chemistry of it all.

The Health Professions portion of the open house will take place in the L wing of the main campus and at the H building located in Parkland on Mattis, 1309 N. Mattis Ave. in Champaign. The Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care, Surgical Technology and Veterinary Technology programs will be featured in the L wing, while the Nursing, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Service, Massage Therapy, Medical Assisting, Nursing Assistant, Occupational Therapy and Practical Nursing programs will be featured at the H building. Visitors can enjoy chair massages from Massage Therapy students, get their vitals taken from Medical Assisting students and view lab demonstrations from Nursing and Occupational Therapy students in the H building.

For more information about the Parkland College Fall Open House, contact Admissions and Records at 217/351-2482 or