Astronauts need brains and muscles to spacewalk.
Everybody knows that if you want to be an astronaut, you need to have top-notch math and science skills. But astronauts also need the strength and muscle coordination to navigate a zero-gravity environment, so even the best students can't cut it at NASA unless their bodies are in top shape, too. To help the next generation of students become physically and mentally prepared to be astronauts, NASA is taking a page out of First Lady Michelle Obama's fitness playbook and launching the Train Like an Astronaut project.
The program, which is developed by the same NASA scientists and fitness professionals that work with current astronauts, provides "structured, hands-on science activities" and connects "physical Earth-based needs to the requirements of exploring space." Each mission—"Do a Spacewalk," for example—contains a student-friendly "mission briefing, mission assignment, and mission purpose, plus vocabulary and related NASA facts," as well as information about proper nutrition. The missions and corresponding teachers' guides are downloadable in both English and Spanish, and are aligned with health and physical fitness education standards.
Charles Lloyd, NASA's human research program education and outreach manager, says one of NASA's goals is "to inspire our youth to stay in school and master professions in the sciences and engineering fields" so they can carry on the important work of space exploration. Let's hope Train Like an Astronaut catches on in schools so we can ensure there's a next generation of fit explorers.