Astronaut Cadet Programs ... For ages 9 to 16 (or capable of doing fourth grade work in math and science)
The Space Voyage cadet levels are based on the knowledge, skill, confidence and experience needed to complete the objectives for that level. The cornerstones of our achievement model are: vision, persistence and sustained effort, problem solving, organizational discipline, oral and written communication skills, resilience and perseverance. Each level of achievement builds on the one before, allowing the students to experience an open-ended and sophisticated learning experience that takes place over time. Levels 1-2 typically each take one camp week to complete. Level 3 and above generally require more than one week, which you can do in one summer or across several summers.
Description of Astronaut Cadet Levels:
Level 1 Exploration
Introducing Cadets to spaceflight mission planning, space flight operations, space station construction and teamwork. Some learning and work is done alone, but most is done through the Mission Crew and the attending Instructor. The focus of the level 1 cadets and their instructors is efficiently split between a number of competency areas, such as analytical problem solving, piloting skills, writing and communication skills, and ‘thinking like an astronaut’.
Level 2 Mastery
Learning more (80%) about spaceflight mission planning, shuttle flight, space pod control, flight documentation and teamwork. More learning and work is done alone, but most work is still completed through the activities of the Mission Crew and with the Instructors. The focus of level 2 cadets is very similar to level 1, with a stronger emphasis on simulation and documentation to prepare for the challenge of the senior cadet levels.
Level 3 Proficiency
Becoming proficient (95%) in space operations. Successful construction of a space station and management of a research project aboard their space station. Passing this level is contingent on passing an Oxford style oral exam with a council of their peers, called a Space Commission, where the aspiring cadet must field and answer any and all questions a Level 3 cadet should know, asked by all Instructors in the room and all senior cadets (Level 3+). The vast majority of work and learning is done alone. Level 3 cadets and up are expected to take accurate account of their own needs and communicate as such to their Flight Director directly. Achieving Level 3 is considered an achievement in its own right. Less than 10% of all Cadets have successfully completed Level 3.
Level 4 Expertise
Growing your skills and confidence to be an expert in space operations and on orbit research in the areas you select. Just like Level 3, passing this level is contingent on passing an Oxford style oral exam with a group of your peers; however, unlike Level 3, the breadth and depth of the required knowledge spans all Space Voyage teachings, from research projects to operational strategy with respect to constructing and sustaining a space station. Almost all work is done alone and is almost entirely self-decided and directed. Achieving Level 4 is considered a cornerstone achievement, and as such, the graduation rate for Level 4 is even smaller than that of Level 3. However, with very few exceptions, cadets are fully vetted and capable of acceptance into the Space Voyage Instructor program upon completion of Level 4 by attaining the Instructor rank of Apprentice. Generally speaking, the amount of work and sacrifice required to achieve level 4 builds a great deal of confidence and pride within the Instructor group and makes the apprenticeship process much more approachable and achievable. Completing Level 4 is considered equivalent to becoming a Cadet-Colonel in Civil Air Patrol, or the rank of Eagle Scout. Less than 5% of all Cadets have successfully completed Level 4.
Level 5 Expression
Creating an artistic work based on actual events that might occur aboard a space station. Historically, cadets used their level 4 simulations as a starting point, but more recent classes have branched into more fantastic, creative areas. Level 5 cadets share their knowledge, expertise and passion about space flight. Achieving level 5 is an artistic feat and the creations made therein are sacredly held in the space voyage library for the amusement and inspiration of future cadets.
Level 6 Inventor
In collaborating with senior staff and Dr. Palmere, Level 6 cadets invent a new technology that teaches one or more concepts at Space Voyage. In the Space Voyage model, a "technology" is defined as: "anything you can interact with and learn from." Examples of Level 6 technologies created and invented at camp include: the orbital construction pod, water bottle space stations, the yaw axis trainer, the floor map of the NASA Centers, and Kerbal Space Engineers.