If your child constantly dreams about the world beyond our planet, sifts keenly through space science books and runs around the house with a toy rocket, Nickelodeon's Young Astronauts Programme might be a dream come true for the child.
The channel's annual Career Series will kick start with this programme, where five winners will be sent on a space camp for 10 days to NASA — Kennedy Space Centre.
“After ‘Let's just play' and ‘Big green help', we kept wondering what else we could do. Giving children career options seemed a good idea. This programme is the result of a poll we conducted online. We asked them what they would want to be when they grew up. Forty four per cent of respondents wanted to be astronauts. So we thought, why not start with that,” says Nina Elavia Jaipuria, senior vice-president and general manager, Nickelodeon.
Asha Sundararajan, Discovery Dome India, who is also a space science educator, gives details. “Space Science is not just about an astronaut in space. There are 30,000 people in the space mission who are trying to get him there. Just by understanding space, you understand questions such as ‘Where am I from?'; ‘What is life?' This camp is a platform to start questioning, something that is important for children.”
On the space camp, the winners will meet an astronaut, learn to construct and launch a rocket, watch a shuttle launch and undergo simulation in a mock shuttle and motion-based astronaut training. They will also visit the Apollo 11 site.
“The children will work as a team and experience the problems of launching an astronaut into space. It's like that famous line from the ‘Apollo 13' movie, ‘Houston, we have a problem',” she smiles.
To participate in the Young Astronauts Programme, log on to www.nickindia.com and answer “I want to be an astronaut because…” in 150 words. The contest is open for children from Standard 5 to 9. Nickelodeon will have an expert panel of judges to go through the entries and pick the winners. Deadline for submission of entries is February 28.
“To give people an idea about the subject, we're also bringing in discovery domes to Chennai this weekend. It's a mobile planetarium that will give people a 3D experience of space. The sound and the graphics are amazing,” says Asha.
The Discovery Domes will be put up at Citi Centre on February 12 and 13 and will have shows from 5 p.m. onwards.