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Astronaut in Training: Astro-Agility

Just like athletes, astronauts train before, during and after their space flight to stay physically fit and healthy. In this game, students train like astronauts to test and improve their agility

Agility is the ability to quickly change direction while maintaining body control. You need to be agile when doing activities like basketball, where you change direction quickly to run around your opponents, while maintaining your speed and balance.

Astronauts lose agility over time because they work in a microgravity environment where don’t need to change direction quickly. By training to regain their agility, they avoid injury by making sure they can respond quickly to the things happening around them.

Using the obstacle course in this activity, you can time yourself to test your agility, and then practice it again and again to improve your time.

This and other games were designed by NASA to simulate the types of physical challenges astronauts face while travelling in space. 
 

Objectives

  • Experience and discuss some of the physical challenges that astronauts face.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    playing field or gym
    8 marking cones or other mall, steady objects
    a measuring tape or meter stick
    paper and pencil
    a watch or stopwatch

Key Questions

  • What is agility?
  • How will you know if you are becoming more agile when doing this course?
  • Are you getting faster as you practice the course?
  • Do you feel more or less tired as you train on this course?
  • Would you be better at this course after a short or long space mission?

What To Do

Set up
Set up the 8 cones in an area measuring 10m x 5m, as shown in the diagram. The 4 cones in the middle of the course should be at an equal distance from one another.

Game

  1. Form one line at the starting cone. The student astronauts will complete the course one at a time.
  2. Get them into the starting position by having them lie face down with their hands by their shoulders (imagine a push-up). At “Go!” the students run through the course pattern as quickly as possible, without knocking down any cones.
  3. Have a teacher or classmate use a stopwatch with a second hand to time the students as they complete one lap through the course. Students will get time penalties for running the wrong way and for every cone knocked over.
  4. Have the students remember their times and then try to complete the course faster (increase their agility) as they practice the course

Other Resources

NASA | For educators | Train like an astronaut 

Canadian Space Agency | Junior Astronauts
These activities are designed for youth in grades 6 to 9. They  focus on three streams—science and technology, fitness and nutrition, and communications and teamwork.