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07 Feb, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

Canadian Space Agency launches youth challenge

As space exploration delves further and lasts longer than ever before, new challenges await astronauts on their missions. To help them live and thrive while in space, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is challenging youth to come up with new and creative solutions to the challenges of future space exploration.

The initiative is designed to give youth a glimpse into the types of roles they could play in future out-of-this-world space missions by studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and choosing STEM career paths.

The first edition of this initiative, Space Brain Hack, was launched by CSA astronaut Joshua Kutryk on Oct 20. During the event at Science World in Vancouver, Kutryk led a session with a group of Grade 7 and 8 students. Together, they explored this year’s theme of astronauts and their mental wellness.

Some questions that need to be answered include, “How can we help them maintain their well-being on the long-duration and long-distance missions coming up?” and “How can they virtually escape from their stressful environment and stay in touch with their loved ones?”

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Joshua Kutryk with a group of grade 7/8 students from Valley Christian School in Mission, BC, at the Science World science centre. (CNW Group/Canadian Space Agency)

These key questions and solutions to the problems are what’s facing the global space community as it launches the Artemis Program — the NASA-led missions that will land the first woman and the first person of colour on the lunar surface and lay the groundwork for deep-space exploration to more distant destinations like Mars.

The challenge is open to those in Grades 6 to 12 and students can participate through schools, youth organizations, science centres and at home. The website provides resources including a guide for educators and parents that explains the challenge, worksheets for youth to record their ideas, a toolkit on mental health in space and isolation, and a webinar for educators.

Through the process, participants will learn how to research, critically analyze resources, and how technology can be used to improve our lives. They’ll learn about the International Space Station (ISS) environment, space missions and astronauts, science experiments conducted in space, the impact of microgravity on the body and how body movement is different in space. Astronauts’ health will be analyzed including mental well-being, resilience, physical health, stress management, positive motivation, and nutrition and exercise. And finally, participants will use digital arts, drawing, media, and photography in their proposal as well as produce a written presentation. Participants are encouraged to work in teams of up to six, but individual submissions are also accepted.

Using the assessment criteria outlined on the Space Brain Hack page, winners will be chosen in two categories: Grades 6 to 8 and Grades 9 to 12. For each of the age groups the topic remains the same, but the assessment criteria and worksheets used for the projects differ. Prizes will be given per category with the grand prize consisting of a virtual visit from a CSA speaker or astronaut for their class, group, or family and friends.

Participants have until February 23, 2023 to submit their ideas through the online submission form. Winners will be announced during Science Odyssey in May 2023.

For more information, click here.

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