Train like an astronaut

31 May 2010

ESA and its partners are launching a new kind of fitness initiative using the example of space explorers to promote exercise and healthy nutrition to young people worldwide. 'Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut' is boarding now in eight countries.

Kids: throw away the remote control, leave the Internet to run without you for a while and swap your burger for blueberries! Easier said than done.

ESA and other space organisations are using the excitement of spaceflight to help children and their teachers change their sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets – two of the most significant risks that can lead to chronic health problems as adults.

Getting people up and moving

'Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut' will encourage physical activity and healthier diets among young people in order to promote healthier societies. It is a worldwide initiative supported by ESA and the national space agencies of Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, UK and USA.

The initiative will start in the second week of January 2011 and run for six weeks at the teachers’ discretion during the following eight weeks.

The teams, consisting of children aged 8-12 years, will perform a number of physical exercises and classroom lessons to become as fit as an astronaut and learn the importance of an active lifestyle and healthy nutrition.

Scores will be awarded after each exercise and, at the end of the ’mission’, the winning class for each country will be announced. A website will allow teams to upload results, download educational material, check the results and share comments.

One mission, eight ways to participate

National challenges of the ‘Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut’ are organised in different ways in each country.

Information will be available on the web pages of the participating organisations; see links on the right.

Taking part in the Netherlands

ESA and the Netherlands Space Office are running the Dutch challenge together. The teachers of the 10 selected classes will be invited to a training day and all the teams will attend two events, with an opportunity to talk to an astronaut.

To apply, you need:

  • an enthusiastic teacher with pupils aged 8-12
  • a science or gym teacher supporting the group
  • a gym
  • availability to spend at least 10 hours over 6 weeks on the mission (about 4 hours of these in the class room and 6 hours in the gym)
  • availability to attend a one-day training course in Noordwijk in autumn 2010 (travel expenses covered by ESA)
  • availability to attend the opening and closing ceremonies (January 2011 – spring 2011 in the Amsterdam/Noordwijk area)

How to apply?

  • fill in the attached form (see link in right-hand bar)
  • write a cover letter describing your motivation and interest in fitness and space (about 250 words, Dutch or English)
  • write a slogan about space and fitness and the name you would like to assign to your class team (Dutch or English)
  • send a picture from your school that represents the spirit of the initiative: space, fitness and children
  • send all material to isseducationteam@esa.int

The selected teachers will be announced later in June on the ESA Human Spaceflight website.

For more information contact isseducationteam@esa.int

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