Story time is meant to transport a child’s imagination as far as it can go, and now, our kids can hear stories from someone who has gone literally as far as they can go.
Astronauts are reading kids’ books from the International Space Station, and your kids can watch.
The program is called Story Time from Space, and it’s described in a very NASA way on the NASA website: “Payload operations require crew members to videotape themselves reading the stories and demonstrating STEM concepts from the books. Data collected from sensors attached to the demos, collected in the data unit and interfaced with the laptop, is downlinked with recorded videos to ground.”
In layman’s terms, it’s YouTube videos of astronauts reading from space and it is getting kids interested in STEM.
“What better role models to engage kids in science and to engage them in reading?” Patricia Tribe, the former director of education at Space Center Houston told the Huffington Post. “You’re not only looking and listening to the books, you’re looking around the International Space Station.”
Tribe founded Story Time From Space with astronaut Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr., who tested the project by reading Max Goes to the Moon, a book by astrophysicist and author Jeffrey Bennett, during the final flight of the space shuttle Discovery in 2011. (The book has since been re-read by astronaut Mike Hopkins.)
In 2014, the program launched officially, with five kids’ books aboard when the Orbital 1 blasted off to resupply the International Space Station. In the years since, more stories have been transmitted down to curious little minds. Tribe says the team doesn’t just try to pick diverse books, but also pick a diverse group of astronauts to be the readers.
Astronaut Kate Rubins read Rosie Revere, Engineer, a story about a girl with dreams to be an engineer, and astronaut Koichi Wakata read Max Goes to the Space Station in Japanese.
The stories are important, but so is the location from which they’re being told. According to Drew, letting kids get a glimpse inside the ISS is like rocket fuel for little brains.
“What you cannot imagine, you cannot do. When the Apollo missions blasted off and went to the moon, I was right there with those crews—landing lunar modules and cantering along on the surface of the moon,” he said back when the program officially launched in 2014. “Story Time From Space is intended to ignite children’s engines of adventure, imagination and curiosity and to let those engines take them to any place and time of their choosing.”
Check out the Story Time From Space video library and help your kids blast off, too.
You can find the copies of the books on Amazon, if you’d like to read along on planet Earth. Check out Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and Max Goes to the Moon: A Science Adventure with Max the Dog by Jeffrey Bennett.