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Sending Students “Back to Space” with Simulated NASA Mission Scenarios

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

This month, we’re putting students in the seats at NASA – virtually, that is, at least for now.

In partnership with Back to Space, a transmedia organization that aims to ignite curiosity and positivity for science and technology through digital media content, we’re launching a special Back to Space enrichment to mark National STEM/STEAM day on November 8.

At our event, students will tackle many of the real challenges NASA scientists faced during the Apollo Space Missions, using our hallmark format: hands-on STEAM challenges grounded by a story to contextualize the problems our students will solve in the enrichment.

And while bragging rights are nice, the Back to Space event will also offer a little incentive to accomplish the mission: some students can win a mission patch, command coin, or a signed astronaut photograph, all provided by Back to Space.

Mission: Successful Launch

Putting themselves in the seats at NASA isn’t just entertaining and fun for students, it also provides a critical foundation for the skills they’ll need to thrive in careers later in life, and, we hope, will ignite newfound curiosity in space exploration and STEAM fields.

The team at Back to Space agrees, which is what made them a natural fit for the work we’re doing. (Stay tuned for even more exciting co-developments in the future.)


ome of today’s space-themed movies have already spurred that interest, whether it’s a more fact-based version or a movie exploring a sci-fi element, said Ben Koch, M.Ed. NuMinds Co-Founder & CEO, but programming like Back to Space can help students visualize what it truly takes to make space travel a reality – and feel passionate about that pursuit.

“It’s one thing to watch a cool movie and say, ‘Yeah, I want to go to space,’” Ben said. “But practically, it takes work: engineering, science, and math. Really what it comes down to for NuMinds is sparking that sense of wonder.”

50 Years Since the Moon Landing, Giant Leaps Still Needed

In the early 2000s, studies indicated US students were performing at lower rates in the STEAM disciplines than students in other countries, and attention swiftly turned to a heavier focus on these disciplines. But it’s hardly about just staying on pace with others: inspiring curious students who are skilled in STEAM means helping them thrive in a knowledge-based economy that mandates perennial innovation.

Most of the U.S. Labor Department’s top 10 fastest growing occupations are STEM/STEAM careers, and National STEM/STEAM Day is intended to inspire an interest and passion in science, technology, engineering, art and math, equipping kids to overcome education and gender gaps to thrive in these fields.

These are hefty gaps to overcome, but for NuMinds, it all goes back to the story we’re telling.

“It’s about transforming the narrative about what a person in STEAM looks like,” Ben said.

And STEAM isn’t just about the hard skills of an engineer, astronaut, or mathematician. Our enrichment programs and events also emphasize soft skills like creativity and communication to cultivate equally critical skills paramount to any future career.

This year also marks 50 years since astronauts Neil Armstrong and Aldrin first walked on the surface of the moon in 1969, an anniversary Back to Space co-founder Danielle Dallas Roosa says often slips by unnoticed even as kids can easily name pop culture celebrities.

It’s not likely to slip past the student astronauts going Back to Space with us.

Visit to launch your student’s space exploration today or learn more about how NuMinds is igniting a passion for STEAM.


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