CI&E News

6 Out-of-This-World Career Day Ideas for Elementary School

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

A career in space may seem like a far-off dream, but it's closer than students think! There is room for all in the new space ecosystem, encompassing nearly every industry. Help students experience what's possible with these space-themed career day ideas for elementary school.

1. Bring in an unexpected space industry professional.

Did you know you could bring in a social media influencer, graphic designer, YouTube creator or 3D printing professional to talk with your students about space careers? You can! All of these career paths can play a valuable role in the space industry.

Check out  "10 Industries You Didn't Know Were Space Related" and "15 Space Industry Jobs You Didn't Know About" for a range of professional roles to feature on your career day. The Space Foundation Moon Colony Kit has more ideas, with video profiles of a social media professional, educator, meteorologist, environmental engineer and mechanical engineer who work in the space industry.

How can you find professionals to speak to your classroom in person or virtually? Here are some people and groups to ask:

  • Students' families
  • Local colleges or universities
  • Local businesses
  • Professional associations and organizations
  • Online creators
  • Science museums and learning centers
  • Organizations that promote STEAM learning, such as Space Foundation's Center for Innovation and Education

Many established professionals are happy to "give back" by helping the next generation succeed in their career path.

2. Virtually meet a real astronaut.

While most space careers don't involve going to space, virtually meeting a real-life astronaut can inspire and fire up students' imaginations. Students will hear fascinating stories about space exploration and learn the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) in any future they choose.

Space Foundation Discovery Center offers a live, interactive Audience With an Astronaut virtual series at different times during the year. It is free and perfect for all grade levels! The experience includes a Q&A, interactive polls, a STEAM activity and more.

3. Virtually meet innovators who took unusual paths into the space industry.

Boeing's Future U: Innovating the Future virtual field trip introduces students to amazing professionals writing the next chapter of space history. They'll go behind the scenes at NASA's  Johnson Space Center for a peek at the Boeing Starliner/CST-100 and Space Launch System (SLS) projects. Best of all, they'll hear from employees who took unusual paths into their unique careers.

This program is free for educators and includes downloadable lesson planning content.

4. Experience the real work of space industry professionals.

Many science museums and learning centers offer hands-on programs that help students "try on" STEAM careers. Many are available virtually if you don't have such a program nearby.

One such immersive program is the AGI Space Missions Simulation Laboratory at the Space Foundation Discovery Center in Colorado Springs. Students can use the same state-of-the-art modeling and visualization software used by space industry professionals. You can make reservations here.

5. Bring coders into the classroom.

Kids CodingCoding and computer science are growing needs for the space industry. Kids That Code, Inc. is a wonderful resource to inspire children about a number of career possibilities. It also offers the opportunity for career day presenters to come into the classroom to educate about artificial intelligence, gaming development, computer programming, robotics and much more.

Teachers can customize the presentation length that works best for their classroom schedule. If an in-person presentation doesn't work well for a class, they can also have these professionals present via Zoom.

You can find more information about the presenters and how to invite them to speak on the Kids That Code website.

6. Learn about the NASA Artemis project.

The Artemis project is one of the most influential space topics today. "NASA: You Are Going, A Story About Artemis" is a beautifully illustrated book that takes students on the journey of Artemis as though they were right alongside the professionals working on the mission. The E-book is available to view or download for free.

NASA also provides a video of the book read aloud by NASA astronauts, some of whom have recently spent time onboard the International Space Station. This resource makes for an inspiring and engaging activity for any space-themed career day.

Looking for more ideas?

Space Foundation's Center for Innovation and Education has resources for you! Check out our Programs for Teachers for STEAM lesson plans, e-learning tools, grant lists and professional development opportunities. Our Students page includes programs, STEAM activities, and more to explore. Keep up with the latest news by subscribing to our newsletter.