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NASA Challenges Students To Train Like An Astronaut

Jan. 18, 2011

J.D. Harrington 
Headquarters, Washington 

William Jeffs 
Johnson Space Center, Houston 

RELEASE: 11-019


WASHINGTON -- NASA and 14 international space agencies are challenging 
students to complete a nutrition and fitness program known as 
"Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut." Approximately 3,700 students 
from more than 25 different cities worldwide are participating in 
this six-week pilot project. 

NASA's Human Research Program is sponsoring the U.S. component of the 
international challenge that began Tuesday. Teams of students between 
eight and 12 years old will learn principles of healthy eating, 
exercise and compete for points by finishing training modules. 
Students also will practice scientific reasoning and teamwork while 
participating in hands-on training that targets strength, endurance, 
coordination, balance and spatial awareness. The exercises will 
involve the same types of skills astronauts learn during training for 

"A part of the human space exploration mission is to inspire our youth 
to stay in school and master professions in the sciences and 
engineering fields to carry on this important work well into the 21st 
century," said Charles Lloyd, NASA's Human Research Program Education 
and Outreach Project manager. "We believe this starts with our youth 
in elementary school. We hope this international fitness challenge 
will assist them with that lifelong endeavor." 

Mission X challenges students to be more physically active; increases 
awareness of the importance of lifelong health and conditioning; 
teaches students how fitness plays a vital role in human performance 
for exploration; and inspires and motivates students to pursue 
careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

The U.S., Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Colombia, 
Spain and United Kingdom are hosting teams for the challenge. Team 
USA is hosted by the College Station Independent School District 
(ISD) in College Station, Texas. It consists of more than 800 
fourth-grade students. After six weeks of training, the U.S. 
challenge will culminate in a March 24th event, called the Fit 
Explorer Hometown Hullabaloo, to celebrate the students' success. 

"Mission X is an exciting way to actively involve students in learning 
the importance of nutrition and physical fitness," said Becky 
Burghardt, director for curriculum, College Station ISD. "Children 
are fascinated by the training experiences of astronauts and are 
motivated to mirror what real-life astronauts do to prepare for space 
missions. Teachers and administrators are hopeful the rich science 
and physical education experiences designed by NASA will help 
students become aware of the importance of living a healthy 

Upon completion of this pilot, the goal is to expand the program to 
more schools in additional countries. 

To see NASA astronaut Cady Coleman kick off the challenge from the 
International Space Station, visit: 


The 18 core activities of the challenge are available for download in 
seven languages. 

To view country updates and Mission X teams' progress, visit: 


For more information about other NASA education programs, visit: 



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