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Escape from Astronaut Training Trailer

​​Build excitement by showing students the trailer video, available on YouTube! For schools whose districts block YouTube access, the complete trailer is also embedded directly on the Escape from Astronaut Training homepage. Be sure to turn your volume on and enter full screen view!

Educator and Student Guides

Download Educator and Student Guides by clicking the respective download buttons at the top of the Escape from Astronaut Training homepage. The Educator Guide includes answer keys, recommended pacing, and additional suggestions for facilitating each of the training lessons found throughout the virtual escape room webpage.

To improve accessibility, the Educator Guide includes a printable version of the Geology Training Assessment, including large images and text.

Additionally, the Educator Guide includes a large-text version of the Botany Training Assessment. Lastly, the Student Guide includes printable worksheets to accompany each of the online activities.

Gameplay Tutorial Video and Checklist

Students can refer to the “How to Escape from Astronaut Training” video, then refer to the printable Gameplay Tutorial Checklist. Remind students that Astronaut Candidates must follow instructions very carefully! Formal educators may consider requiring the Gameplay Tutorial Checklist as homework to help students practice following instructions and to help students complete all sections of the escape room website.

Establish Your Crew

In this training lesson, students explore a series of virtual career cards and imagine who each of their Mars crew members could be. Clickable Power Word definitions throughout the career cards expose students to the skill sets each crew member might contribute, while journal prompts in the Student Guide help students reflect on what other attributes may be beneficial, including the spirit of exploration and the value of diversity. 

Instructional Objectives: 

  1. Introduce students to a variety of career opportunities, skill sets, and related college majors available in North Dakota (North Dakota Social Studies Standard E.6_12.7.1). Note: Although the career cards specifically list college programs in North Dakota, the careers and skills are relevant to students in all states. Educators outside North Dakota may consider checking local social studies standards to see if there is a similar career exploration objective.
  2. Consider who could be part of a Mars crew and why, including the advantages of having a diverse team.

Geology Training

In this training lesson, students take a virtual field trip to several locations on Earth to better understand how water can shape land and rock. This process is called erosion, and it includes the ways in which rocks and sediments can be naturally worn away, carved, and moved by repeated force. The last stop on our virtual field trip is a very special crater on Mars. There, students assemble the clues to understand what happened long ago. Coordinating worksheets in the Student Guide encourage notetaking and deeper engagement with the content onscreen.

Instructional Objective:

Use concepts of water and erosion (NGSS Standard MS-ESS2-2; North Dakota Science Standard MS-ESS2-2) to investigate Earth’s geologic history and hypothesize the geological history at a Martian landing site.


Botany Training

In this training lesson, students explore a clickable Plant Production Module of the Mars habitat to understand how photosynthesis can power food production for the crew. Student Guide worksheets help prompt students through the questions and content onscreen. At the end of the lesson, students demonstrate what they learned by completing a photosynthesis game.

Instructional Objective:

Understand the flow of matter and energy as plants convert light, carbon dioxide, and water into sugars (NGSS Standard MS-LS1-6; North Dakota Science Standard MS-LS1-6).


Health Training

In this training lesson, students use a health triangle to brainstorm ways to keep a Martian crew healthy. The series of interactive onscreen activities features a choose-your-own-ending storytelling format, giving students a chance to customize their responses along the way.

Instructional Objectives:

Use a health triangle to brainstorm ways to keep a Martian crew mentally, physically, and socially healthy while isolated from Earth (North Dakota Health Standard 1.6.2). Educators outside North Dakota may consider checking local health frameworks for similar standards that emphasize the interconnectedness of different types of health.

Consider how the habitat environment affects the crew’s personal health (North Dakota Health Standards 1.6.3, 1.8.3). Educators outside North Dakota may consider checking local health frameworks for similar standards that emphasize the interconnectedness of health and environment.


Virtual Habitat Portal

Once students have finished all four challenges (Establish Your Crew, Geology Training, Botany Training, and Health Training), they are ready to step into the Virtual Habitat Portal, where North Dakota Space Grant STEM Ambassadors have hidden virtual clues.

The Virtual Habitat Portal portrays a 3-D photo capture of the interior tunnels and rooms in the Inflatable Lunar/Mars Analog Habitat (ILMAH), part of the Human Spaceflight Laboratory,  on the University of North Dakota campus. College students and researchers regularly use this prototype live-in analog habitat with attached planetary suits to simulate what life would be like in an off-planet settlement. As middle schoolers adventure virtually through the habitat’s tunnels, they learn transferable technology skills similar to Google Streetview.

By filling out the Virtual Habitat Portal Crossword as students explore the habitat, students will decode the Mystery Message – the missing key to successfully escaping the virtual escape room!

Instructional Objective:

In addition to reinforcing all the standards covered in prior activities, the Virtual Habitat Portal is a chance for students to sharpen technology skills for engaging with interactive environments online (North Dakota Library and Technology Standard 6-8.MTL.8, 2012 Version).


Escape from Astronaut Training, including the resources above, were produced by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium with project lead Michaela Neal. A complete list of credits for Escape from Astronaut Training is available. Special thanks to all the North Dakota STEM Ambassadors who contributed to this project, the University of North Dakota Space Studies Department, the University of North Dakota Human Spaceflight Laboratory, and Dr. Pablo de León. Additionally, special thanks to the Infiniscope program for supporting the lesson design process through professional development training and providing access to the Tour It platform.

Educator Mode