First Steps: Training for Space

Difficulty: Moderate

Duration: 30–45 minutes

Materials: Minimal


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Background

Physical fitness is very important if you are considering a career as an astronaut. In addition to having an education in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM), astronauts are in excellent physical condition. Fitness and health are evaluated very closely throughout an astronaut's career. For example, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques went through many fitness tests before, during and after his space flight. These tests include the evaluation of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and submaximal estimates of VO2 max before, during and after long-duration International Space Station missions. This test is designed to measure how much physical exertion someone can sustain and whether this changes during long-duration space missions. By measuring VO2 max before, during and after space flight and by closely monitoring an astronaut's health during a space mission, experts aim to learn more about the effects of space flight on the body and improve astronaut physical training programs.

Mission description

Just like an astronaut candidate, youth will undergo a test of physical fitness. The beep test was one of the challenges used in the most recent astronaut recruitment campaign. Participants will run to one side of a designated area and wait for a beep sound. They will then run back to their starting position. They will repeat this as the intervals between beeps get shorter. Once they can no longer reach the designated area in time with the beeps, they will stop the activity and record their results. Participants will then take part in a series of exercises to test balance, strength and endurance.

Timeline

Breakdown Duration
Background 2 minutes
Educator's instructions/demonstration 5 minutes
Group activity 20-35 minutes
Wrap-up 3 minutes
Total 30-45 minutes

Goals

Participants will develop a sense of their own physical limits and how this connects to an astronaut's training.

Objectives

By the end of the mission, participants will be able to

Mission preparation

Materials

Set-up

Level Laps Cumulative
laps
Speed
(km/h)
Speed
(mph)
Lap
time (s)
Level
time (s)
Level
distance (m)
Cumulative
distance (m)
Cumulative
time (mm:ss)
Expected male age
to complete level
Expected female age
to complete level
1 7 7 8.5 5.3 8.47 67.76 140 140 1:08 7 8
2 8 15 9 5.6 8 64 160 300 2:12 9 10
3 8 23 9.5 5.9 7.58 60.63 160 460 3:12 10 11
4 9 32 10 6.2 7.2 64.8 180 640 4:17 11 12
5 9 41 10.5 6.5 6.86 61.71 180 820 5:19 12 13
6 10 51 11 6.8 6.55 65.45 200 1020 6:24 13 14
7 10 61 11.5 7.1 6.26 62.61 200 1220 7:27 14 16
8 11 72 12 7.5 6 66 220 1440 8:27 16 19
9 11 83 12.5 7.8 5.76 63.36 220 1660 9:30 17 21
10 11 94 13 8.1 5.54 60.92 220 1880 10:31 18 21+
11 12 106 13.5 8.4 5.33 64 240 2120 11:35 19
12 12 118 14 8.7 5.14 61.71 240 2360 12:37 21+
13 13 131 14.5 9 4.97 64.55 260 2620 13:42
14 13 144 15 9.3 4.8 62.4 260 2880 14:44
15 13 157 15.5 9.6 4.65 60.39 260 3140 15:44
16 14 171 16 9.9 4.5 63 280 3420 16:47
17 14 185 16.5 10.3 4.36 61.09 280 3700 17:48
18 15 200 17 10.6 4.24 63.53 300 4000 18:52
19 15 215 17.5 10.9 4.11 61.71 300 4300 19:54
20 16 231 18 11.2 4 64 320 4620 20:54
17 16 247 18.5 11.5 3.89 62.27 320 4940 21:56

Source: Multi-stage fitness test Wikipedia

Mission instructions

Layout

  1. 20-metre shuttle run test (beep test)

    Place cones 20 metres apart. Use your speakers or whistle to make the beep sounds.

    Youth will run from one marker to the other within the duration between beeps. Once they hear the beep, they can turn back and run the other way. As the interval between beeps decreases, youth will be challenged to run faster and faster to keep up with the pace of the beeps. When the participant can no longer keep up with the beep, they may stop and record their results.

  2. Push-ups

    Have youth lie on the ground in proper push-up position (see below). Participants perform push-ups with the proper technique until they can't do any more. Youth should record their results.

    Proper push-up position:

    1. Hands are placed directly under the shoulders
    2. Legs are straight
    3. Elbows bent
    4. Raise the body until arms are completely straight
    5. Bend elbows and bring body back to floor
    6. Body should remain straight during lifting and lowering
    7. Ideally neither the chin, nor the abdomen nor the legs should touch the ground
  3. Sit-ups

    Have youth perform sit-ups in proper position (see below). Participants perform sit-ups until they can't do anymore. Once the motion becomes too difficult to continue, have youth record their results.

    Proper sit-up position:

    1. Lie on back
    2. Place feet flat on ground, knees bent at 90 degrees
    3. Place hands on each side of the head (do not cradle head, or use hands to lift up neck!)
    4. Keep hips on ground
    5. Sit up and touch elbows to knees
    6. Return to starting position, mindful of keeping back as straight as possible
  4. Balance on one foot

    Place hands across the body on opposite shoulders. Lift left foot so it is parallel with the right ankle but does not touch the right leg. Hold for as long as possible to a maximum of 45 seconds. Have youth record results. Repeat with the other leg.

    Time stops when:

    1. Arms or hands move;
    2. The raised foot moves closer to or away from the other leg or touches the ground;
    3. The foot touching the ground moves;
    4. Maximum time of 45 seconds has been reached.

    For increased difficulty, have participants close their eyes!

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