NASA Has Online Astronaut Training for Kids

This is just one of the many activities designed to teach your children at home.

Apr 27, 2020

Helping kids reach for the stars – or the International Space Station – is just one of the ways that NASA and ISS National Labs are keeping kids that are in home quarentine and not going out to school involved in STEM activities. One of the most adventurous is a training program to become a home astronaut.

Families can download the Space Station Explorers STEM Guide that includes what ISS describes as hands-on space-themed learning activities for kids in grades 3-8. The activities are designed to encourage children to explore the various science activities on the Space Station.

The guide also contains activities that include a spacewalk simulation, designing a space station, measuring off-world distances and more. The program contains 10 hours of learning at no cost.

NASA also has STEM activities for families to do with older kids, like launching rockets and building a hovercraft. Another activity is building a NASA moon phase calculator. There will be regular updates of other free activities and resources for parents to teach science at home.

Other space related activities for older children allow them to take part in experiments that are being done on the International Space Station and to compare results according to Science Alert. Learning modules help students explore life sciences, robotics, and math. One example involves using simple materials to show how astronauts float in space and it has absolutely nothing to do with lack of gravity.

Older students can join citizen science projects like searching for new brown dwarf stars by researching Hubble space images or using satellite data to help scientists track penguin populations. A program that just completed on April 22, was about helping to choose which protein plant could best be grown in space, alfalfa, mungbean, or lentil.

NASA At Home gives parent’s ideas about science projects that can done at home and even contains a collection educational of videos, e-books, podcasts, and virtual tours. Besides all the school-age activities, there are even coloring pages and a Sesame Street video for little ones because it’s never too early to get kids involved with space.

"We know many students are learning at home right now, and hands-on activities are especially important to keep students engaged and learning. We are all in this together," ISS National Lab education manager Dan Barstow told Science Alert.

NASA has long been involved in educating youth but it was through schools and science clubs and not done at home with parent teachers. Mission X, an international collaboration of physical fitness has been around since 2011 in schools and reaches over 100,000 students every year.

While it is not easy for parents to keep their kids actively learning during these stay-at-home times, using the myriad of fun hands-on educational activities from NASA and its partners can help. After all, what child doesn’t dream about reaching the stars.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.