Astronaut Pathfinder Programs ... For ages 6-8
Programs are based on grade level the student is entering when they return to school in the fall:
Pathfinder 1 - Entering First Grade
Pathfinder 2 - Entering Second Grade
Pathfinder 3 - Entering Third Grade
The Pathfinder Program focuses on awareness and exploration of space studies through hands-on activities. Pathfinders are responsible for creating a crew patch as a team and creating a variety of artistic projects which can be taken home and enjoyed during the school year.
To be successful, Pathfinders must:
1) Be interested in space flight or being an astronaut
2) Be capable of independent work
3) Have the maturity of a child his or her own age
The Pathfinder program was added circa 1996, with the specific goal of allowing kids age 6-8 to experience the thrill of thinking like an astronaut, while having an appropriate set of expectations. While the Cadet program is based on completing a set of requirements for each level, Pathfinders are process oriented. Four processes are explained and measured throughout each Pathfinders week at camp.
These processes are embodied by the rhetorical standards: Did you do your best? Did you ask questions? Did you tell the instructor and Doc what you need? and, Did you work as a team when asked? To earn their Space Flight Medal from Space Voyage, each Pathfinder will talk to the Flight Director and needs to be able to say "Yes, I did!" to each of these questions.
Pathfinders have special rights at Space Voyage, mostly dealing with helping them explore new activities and encouraging Cadets to assist them as they work-hard and play-hard throughout their week. With this is mind, Pathfinders are allowed to try-out all the activities at camp, even the advanced activities of the upper level Cadets. Pathfinders have "cut in line privileges and a no waiting" policy at camp. Cadets avoid having Pathfinders cut-in-line on them by inviting Pathfinders to go first, including the Pathfinders and asking the instructors to set up multiples of a popular activity.
Pathfinders focus on thinking like an astronaut, as they work on activities. investigations and challenges. All of the activities are based in the areas of flight, problem solving, teamwork and communication skills. Space Voyage has invented hundreds of activities, many requiring several skills at the same time. Pathfinder curriculum each day varies, based on interest, but all activities have a hands-on feature. Some of the most cherished Pathfinder activities include (in no order): inflatables, space craft simulations, wall art, 3D shuttle building, making a big head, kinetic reach, 2D and 3D space puzzles, edible space stations, the Big Space Ice Cream mountain, and, creating their own unique Crew Mission Patch. Pathfinders attending for more than one week are allowed to re-visit their favorite lab packs, and explore new ones. Especially interested or motivated Pathfinders have even been known to create new activities with Doc throughout their week.