New YouTube short shows kids on space scavenger hunt with VP Kamala Harris

A new YouTube original follows a group of kids who go on a scavenger hunt with clues delivered from the International Space Station, with vice-president Kamala Harris assisting.

"My mom was a scientist, so I just love the idea of exploring the unknown," Harris says in the short trailer to a diverse group of kids, who also get advice from NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough from orbit. 

"Get Curious with Vice President Harris" launches Thursday (Oct. 7) on NASA's YouTube channel and the YouTube Kids app, and you can watch the nine-minute short here on NASA. The show is produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment and was released in concert with World Space Week, an annual seven-day celebration after the Oct. 4 anniversary of the Sputnik satellite launch that kicked off the space age in 1957.

Related: NASA helps students launch into new school year with space-related educational resources

Vice President Kamala Harris leads kids on a scavenger hunt in YouTube's "Get Curious with Vice President Harris" short video.  (Image credit: YouTube/NASA)

Without getting too deep into spoilers, you'll see Harris and the kids have an outdoor meeting at the White House and tour the United States Naval Observatory. Kimbrough, floating in the ISS, gives a cute clue to the vice president's identity before the kids meet her: "She actually lives at the Naval Observatory," he explains, mentioning, too, that she's leader of the National Space Council.

The next scene, showing the masked kids marching in a cluster down a hallway, has one saying to the others: "I wonder who the head of the Space Council is," moments before the big reveal. 

"We are over the moon to be working with Vice President Harris on this exciting special that encourages kids to ask questions and explore space," Nadine Zylstra, head of family, learning and impact for YouTube Originals, said in a statement about the new show. "This special delivers quality, educational programming to our young viewers around the globe — and it's pretty cool to have the vice president of the United States and astronaut Shane Kimbrough help us do it."

U.S. President Joe Biden's first budget proposal for NASA, released in April, asked for $24.7 billion in fiscal year 2022, which began Oct. 1 — a $1.5 billion increase over 2021. The budget prioritizes the Artemis human spaceflight program (a moon-landing venture accelerated to 2024 by the previous administration, led by Donald Trump), as well as climate science and Mars exploration.

The Artemis program has met numerous logistical challenges since Biden took office, although the issues stem from programs initiated before he took the helm in January. New NASA administrator Bill Nelson, however, has said the agency is confident it can meet the 2024 commitment.

Specifically, NASA's lunar spacesuits have been delayed, so much so that the agency's Office of Inspector General warned a 2024 landing is "not feasible." There is also an ongoing lawsuit related to the procurement of the Artemis human landing system, delaying work on that. 

But whether or not Artemis meets its goal, Harris encouraged her guests to get curious about space. "You're going to literally see the craters on the moon with your own eyes," she told the kids before they looked through the Naval Observatory telescope. "It is going to be unbelievable."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: