If you work with kids and you like astronomy/space, you should check out the Spaceracers website. The Spaceracers are something between birds, from which each takes a name, airplanes, and rockets. There are currently 14 10-15 minute episodes of Spaceracer adventures on the website. Some are listed on the “Episodes” page, and others are embedded in the “Family Activies” page.
In each episode the Spaceracers have an adventure into space, and in the process learn both something about astronomy and something about good behavior and/or safety. For instance, in “Mars Canyon Race,” Eagle and Raven challenge each other to a race through a Martian canyon at night when they are supposed to be in their rooms sleeping. When something goes wrong and one gets hurt while the other runs out of fuel, another mischievous spaceracer must come to the rescue. In another episode, “Elections,” Eagle learns about campaigning, and that he actually is expected to keep his campaign promises after he wins the election.
There is a page with links and pdf’s of activities relating to the various episodes.
Currently the shows available are:
Mars Canyon Race – They learn facts about Mars and to obey the rules of the school.
Fearless Fliers – Raven and Hawk head out to explore the outer solar system and learn to cope with fear.
Elections – The spaceracers hold an election, and learn about the influence of the moon on the Earth.
Starling Space Racer – The spaceracers find a way to train Starling when a commitee member takes over and removes their training equipment. In the process Starling learns about Jupiter’s gravity, Martian sand storms, and gravity.
Hawk’s Valentine – Hawk receives a Valentine and the group sets out to discover who sent it. They learn that close observation can solve mysteries. They also pick up some facts about the moon in the process.
Satelite Starling – When Hawk accidently break the lunar elevator battery, Coot and Robin need to repair it. Intending to help out, Starling takes the new battery closer to the sun to charge it. Unfortunately, she gets lost in a junk field and needs to be rescued.
Trail Blazers – The spaceracers go with Coot to Jupiter to collect space junk to recycle. When Hawk discovers a new comet, they decide to collect a sample. Determined to beat the others to the comet, Eagle gets himself trapped on the comet and on a direct course to collide with Jupiter. The others must find a way to rescue him before he enters Jupiters atmosphere.
Star Signs – The spaceracers don’t see any value in learning the constellations until Crow gets damaged in a meteor shower and the gang has to use the constellations to find him.
Gravity – A music video about gravity.
Starling Discovers the Moon – (Found on the Moontime Family Activity page) Starling is afraid the moon is being destroyed. To prove it to the rest of the group, she tracks the change in the moon’s shape every day for a week. When she goes to the moon to try to rescue it alone, the others have to find her and bring her home again. In the process, they teach her about the phases of the lunar cycle.
Where are We? – The spaceracers get lost and have to use a book about the solar system to determine on which planet they’ve crash landed.
Simple Re-Quest – In this episode the spaceracers are out to clean up space junk, and Hawk has to learn his shapes.
Dome Grown – The spaceracers are planting a Martian greenhouse to surprise their headmaster, except something isn’t quite right. Using the science and their detective skills, the spaceracers discover the problem and save the plants.
A Tight Squeeze – While the cadets are deciding what they want to place in the time capsule that will take a 25 year journey around Mars and back to the academy, the teachers relive a bit of fun from their own cadet years. Unfortunately, they get locked in the capsule, and the only way out is to allow it to follow its projected trip around Mars and back. Can the current cadets come up with a way to rescue their teachers in less than 25 years?
The shows are nice and short, which means they could be used in programming as an introduction to a subject or theme or a beginning activity to get participants’ attention. There are also ipad and Googleplay apps, as well as an online game, which I enjoyed. Online coloring pages are also available for the youngest kids.