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Space for healthier lifestyles

A programme for young astronauts helps to boost pupils' science and fitness. Elizabeth Buie reports

A programme for young astronauts helps to boost pupils' science and fitness. Elizabeth Buie reports

Britain's first European Space Agency astronaut, Major Tim Peake, has launched a programme of astronaut training for 6,000 pupils in 86 primary and secondary schools across the UK.

But the "Mission X: Train like an Astronaut" challenge for 8- to 14-year-olds is less about space and more about real-life challenges that lead to greater understanding of a healthy lifestyle.

Workshops over the next six weeks will include a mix of science background, coordination, dexterity and exercise challenges, including: Energy of an Astronaut; Base Station Walkback; Let's climb a Martian Mountain; Crew Assembly; and Do a Spacewalk.

Students will practise scientific reasoning and teamwork while participating in hands-on training missions that target strength, endurance, coordination, balance and spatial awareness. They will have scores awarded after each exercise, with the points helping the Mission X mascot, Astro Charlie, to take steps towards the moon.

The UK blog on the international website will allow teams to upload results, download educational material, check the results and share comments.

Mission X is an international pilot project led by NASA and the European Space Agency, involving 22 countries. The UK Space Agency, which is behind it, has been working with the Scottish Space School and the University of Strathclyde's school of education to embed the programme in fourth-year BEd student teachers' practical training.

Schools which have not signed up for the workshops can still access the Mission X activities and resources at the UK Mission X website; a full list of missions can be found on the international Mission X website.

- UK Space Agency: http:bit.lyXVoh6j

- Mission X: http:bit.lyeBNsma

- The international kick-off for Mission X 2013 will take place on 11 February. http:spaceinvideos.esa.intesalive.

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