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Your kids can join a free class with an astronaut (and more) in these virtual school days

Astronaut Leland Melvin speaks with a class of elementary school students in 2008.
Astronaut Leland Melvin speaks with a class of elementary school students in 2008. (Image credit: Sean Smith/NASA)

Want to study space exploration with an astronaut? Now's your chance.

Leland Melvin (opens in new tab), a retired NASA astronaut and former NFL wide receiver, is teaching a two-part course called "Chasing Space: Science and Life Lessons (opens in new tab)" as part of a Virtual School Day program (opens in new tab) launched by Varsity Tutors, a virtual education site, to educate children home from school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first session takes place today (May 12) at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT) and will focus on why space exploration matters for those of us remaining on Earth. The second session, at the same time on May 19, will talk about spaceflight from an astronaut's perspective, including each step of a mission and reorienting to life on the ground. Each session will last 30 minutes.

"After injuries ended my football career, I decided to attend graduate school and study engineering thanks to a former professor’s influence," Melvin said in a statement. "I want to pay that example forward and inspire students to reach for the stars."

Related: Free space projects for kids (and adults) stuck at home (opens in new tab)

Melvin's class is free for all but targeted for students between grades 3 to 8. It is one of four different tracks, each hosted by a different star teacher, available for free from Varsity Tutors. 

The other classes are: 

To sign up for Melvin's free class, you can register through Varsity Tutors (opens in new tab).

Email Meghan Bartels at or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Meghan Bartels
Meghan Bartels

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.