Do you have what it takes to be an astronaut? Kids can find out by participating in TechQuest: Astronaut Academy, the newest “alternate reality game” at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. With mobile devices in hand, players go on a museum scavenger hunt and participate in hands-on tasks related to their mission.
After a quick orientation, players can choose from a variety of roles including pilot, mission commander, medical specialist, flight engineer, planetary geologist and mission specialist. Each role has specific tasks, things to learn and stations to visit throughout the museum. Players will explore different STEM skills and discover amazing museum artifacts along the way. It’s a great way to engage tweens and teens who otherwise aren’t excited to spend time at a museum with the family.
The game requires Internet access, as instructions throughout the game are given via a special webpage. Families should bring their own phones or Internet-ready device equipped with a camera. As players move through the game, they are asked to take digital pictures of their completed tasks.
TechQuest: Astronaut Academy is geared towards upper elementary and middle school students and their families, but other ages may also enjoy the challenge.
TechQuest is a self-guided activity and starts with a 10-minute orientation offered at regular intervals throughout the day. Visitors can play at their own pace and expect to take between 60-90 minutes to complete the program. Knowledgeable staff and volunteers are stationed throughout the museum to offer guidance and education. Once all the tasks are complete, visitors can blast off back to the orientation center for “Astronaut Graduation.”
Astronaut Academy TechQuest is free to play and offered between 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on select dates. Upcoming dates include:
- Saturday, Oct. 17
- Saturday, Oct. 31
- Saturday, Nov. 7
- Friday, Nov. 13
- Saturday, Nov. 14
- Saturday, Nov. 21
- Saturday, Nov. 28
- Saturday, Dec. 5
- Friday, Dec. 11
- Saturday, Dec. 12
- Saturday, Dec. 19
- Saturday, Dec. 26
Micaela Williamson is a coauthor of local travel guide “Kid Trips Northern Virginia,” an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award-winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.Photo courtesy of Tiffany Brown, Mamaratzy Photography