Building a Passion for Space

August 12, 2021

By Justin Pansacola

This fall, the Institute for Educational Advancement’s Academy program will be offering a wide variety of classes, including the return of “Space Academy.” Designed for students ages 6 through 9, this class lays the foundation for a lifelong interest in space, astronomy and physics. What can parents expect from this course? To find out, we talked in-depth with instructor Cynthia Perez.

 The class is for young kids for ages 6 to 9. What are you hoping the students will come away with?

Students will come away with knowledge about the origins and types of spacecraft. What components does a spacecraft need to be successful in space? What tools are required in space? What planets or areas in space would be fit for habitation? For students who have taken this class before, those students will be challenged on understanding and building space colonies that can be either factual or fictional and build on their respective interests. Students will gain a deeper understanding about the challenges, possibilities, and limitations of space travel, whether they are atmospheric or financial or physical.

A class like this can have a big impact on a child’s interests. Why do you think it’s important for kids to establish an understanding of space travel at an early age?

It integrates what all students and children are inquisitive about: what’s out there, how to get there, what’s understood about space and what’s not. It also establishes fact from fiction and an appreciation of the fantastical about space may be the possible. The greatest answers about humankind’s perplexities come from our youngest minds.

You teach multiple classes about space travel, how do you view the way “Space Academy” transitions into your other courses for older students, like “Mission to Mars”?

There’s definitely familiarity and consistency within all the classes I teach. However, when I teach [Mission to Mars, it is] about a specific planet, which is targeted for colonization… The focus here is entirely different than Space Academy, which gives students insight into the history and future of space travel and what components are required for space travel. What are the limitations? The new destinations? The equipment? What will happen without the ISS or International Space Station? What satellites are being launched? What’s the Space Force? For returning students or students who wish to take the class another time, they would build on that knowledge and move forward with their interests.“Space Academy” is an online Academy class for ages 6 through 9, taught on Wednesdays from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM. For more information about the class, as well as information about registering for Academy, see our program page here.