So You Want to be an Astronaut?

How to get your kid to space

Just because NASA wrapped up its Space Shuttle Program after 30 years and 135 missions, it doesn’t mean that we should dissuade our children from becoming astronauts. By preparing our children for their astronomical adventure, we can not only get them involved in some really fun activities but also help them pick up great skills along the way.

Let’s start with the basics: astronauts are good at math and science. Make this very clear to your child as soon as they express interest, it is great incentive for them to do well at school. Enroll them in extra classes and encourage them to join their school’s math and science clubs.

Not to state the obvious, but astronauts are also really into space! There are a multitude of books about the subject written especially for children to fill your library with. You can also check out Star Walk: an augmented reality app that allows you to point your iPhone or iPad to the sky and find out what stars you’re looking at and whether you can catch any space shuttles or satellites flying by. Rocket Math is another great app suitable for kids four to twelve: you get to launch a rocket into the sky by solving math problems.

Google the nearest planetarium and organize a play date there with other space-curious friends. Most offer educational workshops. If you can’t make it out, take a tour of the Washington D.C.-based Smithsonian Air and Space Museum website, which periodically offers virtual field trips.

When it comes down to it, astronauts are really just adventurers exploring the universe. According to a 2007 survey, more than 50 percent of the 312 pilots and scientists selected as astronauts since 1959 were Scouts or active in Scouting. These include 10 astronauts that actually walked on the moon! With troops in over 216 countries worldwide, enrolling your child is easy.

Astronauts are team players, leaders and explorers: traits every parent hopes to nurture in their children. So even if they never actually make to space, if just for the height requirement alone, they’ll be better people for having tried