Links & Resources


We provide these resources to help you start your Project research, but do not limit yourselves to the list below.  Remember that your library, school, local government, museum, park district, or activity center may have a lot of information to share about learning. Contacting professionals is also a good way to learn about the topic.

Some of these resources were designed for adults. Do not be afraid to ask a Coach or Mentor for help if some of the material does not make sense or some vocabulary is too difficult. Discussing the work of others can help everyone understand the topic better – team members and Coaches alike.

Ask a Professional

Talking with professionals (people who work in the field of this year’s Challenge theme) is a great way for your team to:

  • Learn more about this season’s theme.
  • Find ideas for your INTO ORBITSM
  • Discover resources that might help with your research.
  • Get feedback on your innovative solution.

Examples of Professionals

Consider contacting people who work in the following professions. See if your team can brainstorm any other jobs to add to the list. Many company, professional association, government, and university websites include contact information for professionals.



What they do

Where they may work

aerospace engineer

Aerospace engineers design spacecraft, rockets, aircraft and satellites. They also simulate and test the flight of these vehicles to make sure they work properly and are safe for crews.

national or international space agencies; aerospace companies; colleges and universities

aerospace education specialist

Aerospace education specialists are experts whose job is to share knowledge about space exploration and flight with students, teachers and the public.

national or international space agencies; museums and science centers

astrogeologist (and geologist)

Geologists are scientists who study the soil, rocks and liquid matter on Earth. Astrogeologists study the same things, only they focus of the Moon, other planets and their moons, comets, asteroids, and meteorites. If your project involves investigating the geology of another world, you can still talk to a geologist who focuses on Earth.

national or international space agencies; colleges and universities; government agencies


A hydrologist is a scientist who studies how water flows and interacts with the Earth.

national or international space agencies: NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), etc.


A scientist who studies stars, moons, planets comets, galaxies and other objects in outer space.

national or international space agencies; colleges and universities; museums and science centers


A cosmonaut is the term used in Russia and many nations of the former Soviet Union to describe a person who travels into outer space.

Roscosmos, or the Russian Space Agency

flight surgeon (doctor); flight nurse (nurse)

Flight surgeons oversee the healthcare of pilots and astronauts and monitor the unique impacts that flight and space travel can have on the human body. During a space mission, flight surgeons work in mission control to answer any health questions that may arise. For the INTO ORBIT season, if you can’t talk to a flight surgeon about a Project, see if you can talk to another healthcare professional who might have expertise in your area of research.

national or international space agencies; colleges and universities; medical colleges; hospitals and clinics

life support specialist

A scientist, researcher or technician who specializes in studying the systems needed to keep humans healthy and productive in harsh environments. If the life support specialist works in the space industry, they might be involved in any number of areas, such as air or water quality, human physiology, space food production, spacesuit development or maintenance, water quality, waste management, and so forth.

national or international space agencies; colleges and universities; medical colleges


A technician who uses specialized tools to make primarily metal parts. Machinists are critical in the aerospace industry and space exploration, since so much of modern aircraft and spacecraft is made from metals like aluminum.

national or international space agencies; aerospace companies; manufacturing firms that work with metal fabrication


A scientist who has a wide-ranging knowledge of numbers, math operations, shapes, change and data collection. Mathematicians often assist other scientist and engineers in doing their work, and are especially important in aerospace engineering.

national or international space agencies; colleges and universities

mission controller

A scientist or technician who monitors crewed or un-crewed space missions from Earth to ensure that things like navigation, power systems, life support and communications are functioning properly.

national or international space agencies


A scientist who studies the how energy and matter interact. Some physicists study the building blocks of the universe, like atoms and subatomic particles, while others are concerned with cosmology, the analysis of the structure and origins of the universe, and thus stars and galaxies.

national or international space agencies; colleges and universities


A psychologist is a scientist who studies human behavior. Since astronauts live and work in highly unusual and challenging environments, their ability to maintain a positive psychological outlook and good relationships with their crewmates is crucial. In space programs, psychologists and other professionals study ways to ensure that space explorers maintain sound mental health.

national or international space agencies; colleges and universities; school counselors and social workers; private practice therapists


A taikonaut is the term used in China to describe a person who travels into outer space.

China National Space Administration


A technician who specializes in fusing two separate pieces of material together. Welders often heat the two metals up to connect them, but many newer materials such as carbon composites, plastics and other polymers use different techniques. Skilled welders are essential to the construction of spacecraft.

national or international space agencies; aerospace companies; manufacturing firms that work with metal joining and fabrication

Who Do You Know?

Use the list of professionals above to help you brainstorm ideas. Think about all the people who might work in the aerospace industry near you, or researchers and scientists who might be experts in areas related to the INTO ORBITSM Challenge.

One of the best recruiting tools for your Project is your own team. Think about it. Who do you know? There’s a good chance that someone on your team knows a professional who works in aerospace or who might be able to answer questions about human health. Ask your team members to think about family, friends, or mentors who work in any job that meets those criteria. You may also want to see if you can locate a scientist or engineer who is willing to communicate with your team via email or web conferencing. Then make a list of people your team might want to interview.

How Should You Ask?

As a team, talk about your list of professionals and choose one or more who you think could help learn about space exploration. Have the team do a little research about each professional. Find out how the person works with this year’s theme and think about what questions the team might want to ask in an interview.

Next, work with team members to contact the professional you chose. Explain a little about FIRST® LEGO® League. Tell the professional about the team’s research goals and ask if you can conduct an interview.

What Should You Ask?

Have the team prepare a list of questions for the interview. When you think about questions to ask:

  • Use the research the team has already done to brainstorm questions about the professional’s area of expertise. It’s important to ask questions that the person can answer.
  • Keep the team’s Project goal in mind. Ask questions that will help the team learn more about their topic and design an innovative solution.
  • Keep questions short and specific. The more direct team members can be, the more likely they are to receive a useful answer.
  • Do NOT ask the professional to design an innovative solution for your team. The team’s solution must be the work of team members. If they already have an innovative solution though, it is ok for the professional to provide feedback on the idea.

At the end of the interview, ask the professional if your team may contact him or her again. Your team might think of more questions later. Maybe the person would be willing to meet with your team again or give you a tour or review your solution. Don’t be afraid to ask!

And finally, make sure your team shows Gracious Professionalism® during the interview and thanks the professional for his or her time!


Business Insider Science: The Scale of the Universe:

The Verge: Astronaut Scott Kelly on the Psychological Challenges of Going to Mars:

Smithsonian Channel: Three Types of Food You Can Take to Space:

Smithsonian Channel: Mining for Minerals in Space:

Smithsonian Channel: Martian Living Quarters:

Smithsonian Channel: How Mission Control Saved the Apollo 13 Crew:

Space Safety Magazine: Micrometeoroid Hits ISS Cupola:

NASA eClips™:

Makers Profile: Katherine G. Johnson, Mathematician, NASA:

European Space Agency (ESA): International Space Station Toilet Tour:

NASA-Johnson Space Center: Karen Nyberg Shows How You Wash Hair in Space:

European Space Agency (ESA): Cooking in Space: Whole Red Rice and Turmeric Chicken:

PBS Learning Media: Life on the International Space Station: An Astronaut's Day:

PBS Learning Media: Running in Space!:

Websites & Articles

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – For Educators

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – For Students

NASA Visitor Center Locations

European Space Agency

European Space Agency – For Educators

European Space Agency – For Kids

Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency – JAXA

ROSCOSMOS – The Russian State Space Corporation

China National Space Administration 

Department of Space – Indian Space Research Organisation

Brazilian Space Agency (AEB)

International Planetarium Society, Inc.

International Planetarium Society – Directory of the World’s Planetariums

List of Aerospace Museums

Association of Science –Technology Centers

NASA – Life Support Systems

NASA – What is a Spacesuit?

NASA – Space Food Fact Sheets  

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

Royal Aeronautical Society – Careers and Education 

NASA – Spinoff – Best Space Books for Kids

Planetary Society – Emily Lakdawalla's Recommended Kids' Space Books


Title Author /Publisher

Chasing Space (Young Readers' Edition)

By Leland Melvin, Amistad (2017) ISBN-13: 978-0062665928
You Are the First Kid on Mars

By Patrick O'Brien, G.P. Putnam's Sons (2009) ISBN-13: 978-0399246340

Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt

By Mary Kay Carson and Tom Uhlman, HMH Books (2017) ISBN-13: 978-0544416710

Chris Hadfield and the International Space Station

By Andrew Langley, Heinemann (2015) ISBN-13: 978-1484625224

Martian Outpost: The Challenges of Establishing a Human Settlement on Mars

By Erik Seedhouse, Praxis (2009) ISBN-13: 978-0387981901

Alien Volcanoes

By Rosaly M. C. Lopes, Johns Hopkins University Press (2008) ISBN-13: 978-0801886737

Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet

By Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson, National Geographic Children's Books (2015) ISBN-13: 978-1426322068

Max Goes to the Space Station

By Jeffrey Bennett and Michael Carroll, Big Kid Science (2013) ISBN-13: 978-1937548285