How to Train Like an Astronaut for Kids
There are tons of resources for parents whose children want to “train” as astronauts.
Part activity collection, part immersive imaginary experience. Principia is an educational and artistic activity resource guide available online. Your child can design their own space suit, and you can help them out with this coated trapper cap.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) “Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut” program was an open-source educational initiative that helped educators develop physical and academic activities focusing on science related to being an astronaut.
It’s since been discontinued, but the resources are still available online. Organizations, schools, and universities around the world participated in the program, with millions of children benefiting.
Parents comment that the program has inspired cooking, crafts, and lessons on the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math), and inspired hours and hours of fun for kids - the best part.
There are also tons of other opportunities to expose your child to space.
If there’s one kind of place that is great for any kid curious about space or being an astronaut, it’s planetariums.
You and I can probably remember going to one of these places when we were kids. The space ice cream and scientific exhibits were to us - at that age - a wonder to behold. Having access to some of the realities of being an astronaut for a kid is almost exactly like being one.
There’s nothing like stargazing to inspire the imagination.
Not all of us have the opportunity to get away from light pollution easily, but the experience is one you won’t forget.
For an extra special trip, the next time you find yourself travelling from home take the family on a nighttime walk to an empty field in a safe area. If it’s dark enough, you’ll be able to see the stars more clearly than ever before.
Fall nights are especially comfortable for stargazing, so make sure you dress appropriately!
If your child wants to dive straight into the world of “astronauting”, there is a way.
Is it any surprise that there are space camps in the world?
At places like the NASA Camp Kennedy Space Center and Space Camp, kids can be apprentice scientists with classes, activities, and experiments meant to model the astronaut experience.
Divided into age-specific teams with names like Pathfinder, Opportunity, and Spirit, astronauts-to-be simulate space flights to Mars, grow vegetables in a botany lab, and “spacewalk” in a frictionless environment.
Tons of physical activities make dressing for space camp an important consideration. Flexible, breathable materials keep your little astronaut warm in an air-conditioned environment, while cooling them off as they climb the hull of a space shuttle.
At the end of this article, find a list of the top space camps in the United States.
Space camp experiences are lifelong memories your child will relish for a lifetime. And, it can’t be understated that this type of learning experience has results.
Major Jasmin Moghbeli, an astronaut who attended Advanced Space Academy in 1998, said the experience afforded her a lifetime passion for flight and science, and a Halloween costume according to a New Yorker article entitled “Jasmin Moghbeli, Badass Astronaut”.
Candidate Bob Hines said attending space camp as a teenager “fanned the flames” for his future pursuits as an astronaut. Space camps offer immersive experiences with education, hands-on experience, and teambuilding that’s inspiring the next generation of space travelers.
Dare to Dream - If you’re thinking that you want to find more ways to inspire your child for a future as an astronaut, a poet, or a police officer, you’re in luck.
You can always reach out to your local municipal departments to find out about meet-and-greets. There’s space camps. There’s simply walking through the forest on a daytime hike. If you’re able, get out into the world with your child for the experiences they will use on their path.
Astronauts are exceptional people. They’re scientists, teachers - like the late Christa McCauliffe - and politicians. Above all, they’re explorers.
There’s good reason for kids to look up to astronauts. As role models, boys and girls are enamored by their academic achievements and scientific pursuits as models for their own lives.
For parents whose child wants to be an astronaut, there’s relief. What astronauts represent is academic achievement and the development of a solid work ethic, two things that any child can and should work for through their lives.
So, there’s good reason for parents to encourage in their children an interest in astronauts. And one of the ways parents can guide a child’s interests toward positive things is through clothing.
Playing Pretend - The Look
Imagination is the gateway for so much of a child’s learning. “Playing pretend” is something every child does - it’s a commonality for all children that crosses generations and cultures in their own unique ways.
Imagery helps to spawn imagination. It’s Why lots of children’s clothing is designed with simple, easy images. Lions, pigs, and chickens on children’s clothing is cartoonish and simple so children can recognize and relate to them.
Putting on a fur lion suit will make any toddler pretend they are a lion in the cutest way possible. So, it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think that wearing clothing with planets, stars, and rockets would make a child love science, or want to be an astronaut.
Enjoy this list of space camps, along with some other resources.