Payload Blog

Astronaut Training Experience® STEM Academy


The teacher stood in a corner of the Mars Base 1 Botany Lab, trying not to cry as her 3rd graders worked to plant peas as part of a NASA pilot test. One of the instructors from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex approached her and asked, “Is everything all right?”

“Yes,” the teacher said, wiping away her tears. “I’ve just never seen my students this engaged before.”


Student tracks growth of plants on a screen at the ATX Center.

While most of the teachers attending the Astronaut Training Experience® (ATX) STEM Academy with their classes are not moved to tears, they agree: this program gets their students excited about science and math! Launched in late 2018, the ATX STEM Academy is a free outreach to Title I schools in Brevard, Seminole, Orange, Volusia and Osceola counties. Students and their teachers are bused from their school to the visitor complex, where they participate in activities that may include a simulated flight to Mars, hands-on experiences in the Mars Base 1 robotics and botany labs, spacewalk training, Science on a Sphere and so much more. Each itinerary is customized to the school’s needs.

For schools that are farther away, a distance learning program is offered instead. Kennedy Online Outreach & Learning (KOOL) uses web-based video conferences to connect each classroom to an instructor at the visitor complex for a hands-on STEM lesson. Some topics include microgravity waste management (answering the question “How do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?”), Newton’s laws of motion, Moon phases and luminescence.

Each of the programs in the ATX STEM Academy have limited dates available. For more information, please contact 1.855.433.4210. We look forward to welcoming your students!