Fans of the popular Disney movie “Toy Story” know about toy space cadet Buzz Lightyear’s dream to take a “real” mission into space. For those who don’t know, Buzz is an animated character who, although only a toy, aspired to enter space or, as he describes it, with finger in the air, “to Infinity and Beyond.” As part of NASA’s Toys in Space program and Disney’s Space Ranger Education Series, Buzz recently got his chance, traveling with the seven-member crew of Space Shuttle Discovery on Mission STS-124 to the International Space Station. Although the shuttle will soon return to Earth, Buzz will spend the remainder of the summer on the ISS where he—or presumably a scientist channeling his avatar— will experiment with flying in zero gravity. NASA and Disney’s Youth Education Series provide an interactive Web feature documenting Buzz’s adventure, including a daily blog and audio commentary from Buzz discussing aspects of the mission and life in space.
The site’s five student “missions” include math and science games for K-5th graders, where, for example, you can take them on a mission to “Load the Shuttle.” Here, K-2nd graders can select a combination of weights to equal the shuttle’s contents and 3rd-5th graders can experiment with metric conversions. Other missions explore concepts of zero gravity and outline the history and influence of space technology on everyday life. The site will be up until December 2008.