Did you ever go to the science center as a kid and buy astronaut ice cream and other space foods? I did, more than once.
If you’ve never eaten astronaut ice cream, I will tell you that it’s sort of like eating chalk, but a little less dense. I’ll order that kit of space food for Grace and Allie one day, to let them taste it, but it is not exactly something you’d want to eat for a bedtime snack. Or ever.
Enter astronaut pudding.
Astronaut Food – The Science Lesson
This is a fun way to demonstrate to kids the challenges of living and working in space, where every single thing must be brought in aboard a space capsule.
Everything that astronauts eat in space is freeze dried, dehydrated, or vacuum sealed in pouches. Because water is heavy, they can haul more dehydrated foods to space than they could normal foods. Because they “make” their own water aboard the International Space Station (henceforth ISS), they can simply rehydrate the foods just before they eat.
Watch this video with your kids. In it, a real astronaut aboard the ISS shows the pantry, chooses food items (beef stew, asparagus, green beans with mushrooms, and lemonade), and then rehydrates and warms them to eat. He also talks about how they get potable water and mixes up a drink.
When I was teaching, I always paused the video to show my kids things or explain things further. They hated it, but I loved it and do it to Grace even now.
Here are some things to point out in the video:
- They really have a lot of food choices. There are other videos on YouTube that talk about astronaut food choices and many other resources online. Research the options with your kids and create a lunch or dinner menu together. Make that meal at home, but consider how the astronaut version might look and taste.
- The food warmer is built inside a suitcase. Draw or discuss how it might work.
- What does potable mean? He talks about the potable water dispenser. What do you think they do with non-potable water?
- He adds 50 mL of hot water to his asparagus. How much is 50 mL? Measure it to find out.
- He adds 250 mL of room temperature water to his lemonade. Measure that (and add some powdered drink mix from the grocery store).
- The refrigerator aboard ISS is a little bigger than a shoebox. What would your kids choose to keep cold if your fridge were that teeny?
- Why are the scissors on a string?
- His asparagus floated away somewhere. Imagine that!
- Did you notice that everything has velcro on it? Every time he puts something down (his drink, his green beans, an empty package), he makes sure it’s stuck to the table with velcro. If you look closely, you can see the white velcro tape under the packages. Velcro was actually invented for the space program in the 1960’s. Why do you think they use velcro in space?
- He doesn’t mention is specifically, but astronauts eat almost all of their foods with a spoon. Try eating one of your meals with only a spoon!
- He says the garbage comes to a fiery end. What does that mean?
These videos are awesome, too:
- A tour of the food console from an astronaut and a cosmonaut
- This tour of the ISS from Sunita Williams, the woman who holds the record for the longest space flight is my favorite space video ever. She explains how to go to the bathroom in space, how to brush your teeth, how to eat, and lots of other things. It’s super cool.
Back to the Activity – Astronaut Pudding
This was so much fun. Allie didn’t understand what was going on or who astronauts are or where they go, but she had fun with it, too.
Astronaut Pudding requires a few simple ingredients:
- Instant pudding mix
- Powdered milk
- Quart-sized zip top bags
- Measuring spoons
- A measuring cup
Astronaut Pudding Recipe
1. Put 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of dry pudding mix into each kid’s plastic bag.
2. Add 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of powdered milk to each kid’s bag. Mix it up. This is how the package would arrive at the space station.
3. We don’t have a fancy potable water dispenser, so we had to use a measuring cup. Pour in just under 1/2 cup of water and seal the bag.
4. Double check that the bag is sealed, and then squish, squeeze, and mix the pudding until it’s all blended and starts to set up.
Doesn’t that look yummy? No? I didn’t think so, either, but my kids were over the moon for it.
5. Cut the corner off of the bag and squeeze it into your mouth, astronaut-style.
We have a dehydrator and dried some strawberries this summer. They seemed like the perfect accompaniment for our astronaut snack.
© 2013 – 2020, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.