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Space Racers Opens for Preschoolers at VASC
July 10, 2014

Many parents already know it -- but now at least one university study has confirmed it. Pre-school kids are good at figuring out toys and gadgets. In fact researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have discovered that four- and five-year olds are better than college students at some tech tasks.

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NASA Langley's official visitors' center, the Virginia Air & Space Center (VASC), is putting that theory to the test with an interactive exhibit that is based on the new animated children’s public television show Space Racers™. The preschool program follows young spaceship cadets as they soar through the solar system learning about the power of scientific investigation and observation, the wonders of space exploration and the importance of working together as a team.

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The hands-on display at the VASC features Eagle, Robyn, Hawk, Starling and others at Stardust Bay Space Academy as they guide families through the solar system and beyond.  "Rocket Launch" encourages young engineers to design their own spacecraft for a Mars mission or they can build a rocket with oversized building blocks in "Build A Rocket." Visitors can "work" in Mission Control and send a rocket soaring in "Blast Off!," use "Mission Tracking" to track Eagle on an interplanetary mission, and determine if the weather conditions are good for launching a rocket at the "Weather Station."

Pre-schoolers can pretend to be an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and discover what it is like to live in space in the "Lab Area." Visitors can find out what’s on the menu for astronauts aboard the ISS, discover how it feels to sleep in a space station sleeping bag and learn how astronauts exercise in zero gravity.

In going "To the Moon!" children can use a lunar rover or collect lunar samples using a robotic arm, examine “moon dirt,” use the sense of touch to experience different textures, and discover how heavy a bottle of milk is on the moon. 

Those are just some of the adventures young human space racers can have at the newly opened VASC exhibit. And once they go home kids can learn even more online. Series creators collaborated with NASA experts to develop a balanced curriculum and create engaging and scientifically accurate lessons at www.SpaceRacers.org. A section for parents and educators offers family activities and lesson plans based on an early-childhood science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM curriculum.

See more images at NASA Langley's Flickr gallery:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasa_langley/sets/72157645603105352/

Kathy Barnstorff
NASA Langley Research Center

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Kids test the new Space Racers exhibit at the Virginia Air and Space Center.
Image Credit: 
NASA/Gary Banziger
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Space Racers exhibit at Virginia Air and Space Center.
The Space Racers exhibit at the Virginia Air and Space Center.
Image Credit: 
NASA/David C. Bowman
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Page Last Updated: July 10th, 2014
Page Editor: Bob Allen