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NASA Ascent to Orbit


The NASA Ascent to Orbit curriculum, designed for grades 4-8, presents a fascinating look at the past, present, and future of spaceflight. The goal of the curriculum is to help teachers and their students gain a deeper understanding of the core STEM concepts as they relate to space exploration.

Student Hands-on Activities

The NASA Ascent to Orbit program includes a variety of creative lessons and activities related to the history of space exploration.

Activities based on the PAST:

  • Mission Patch – In this activity, students will learn about the significance of NASA Mission Patches and how they can design their own symbolic colorful patches.
  • Exploring Rockets – In this activity, students will be introduced to the fundamentals of space rocketry and Newton’s Laws of Motion by designing their own rockets and examining the concepts of rocket stability and propulsion.

Activities based on the PRESENT:

  • Make A Model Space Shuttle – In this activity, students examine the design and layout of the Space Shuttle.
  • Endeavour’s Drag Chute – In this activity, students will learn about the importance of aerodynamics by designing, building and testing their own parachutes.
  • Robotic Arm – In this activity, students will design and test mechanical arms.
  • End Effectors – In this activity, students will learn about end effectors and how they enhance robotic arms. Students will create their own end effectors.

An Activity Exploring FUTURE Travel:

  • Solar Power – In this activity, students will explore, build, and test solar-powered vehicles.

California Science Center Exhibits

The California Science Center invites you to explore our unique collection of artifacts and exhibits to discover how humans design aircraft, spacecraft and space probes for specific tasks throughout the history of space exploration.

The Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion

Inside the pavilion you’ll see the Endeavour Space Shuttle. Learn about the Orbiter and its amazing engineering in a fun hands-on game!

Air and Space Gallery

The space capsules Gemini, Apollo and Mercury are all part of the amazing Air and Space Gallery here at the California Science Center. Find out about the basics of spaceflight by examining Newton’s Third Law of Motion.

The California Story

Discover the story behind life in space where astronauts live and study in Microgravity.


Here are some useful resources to help enhance your classroom learning environment.