Astronaut Mike Massimino was the first person to tweet from space, but more importantly, he was part of two missions and four spacewalks to repair the Hubble Telescope in 2002 and 2009. Today, Mike is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at his alma mater Columbia University and the Senior Advisor for Space Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum. You might have seen Mike in the media he is a frequent guest on news and talk shows teaching the public about space.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for his upcoming National Geographic Live! student matinee experience. Use the “Before the show” ideas to introduce students to Mike Massimino and the topics (space, teamwork, exploration, STEM) that he will discuss during the show. Use the “After the show” ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended.

Before the Show:

  • Have students review Mike Massimino’s biography using the links in the Explore More tab on this page.
  • Have students read the orbit encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about different orbiting objects in space. After reading, ask: What is an orbit? What kind of objects orbit? What types of orbits are there? What did you read that surprised you? What do you want to learn more about?
  • Learn more about the Space Weather with this Illustration. Have your class research ways space weather might impact their day to day life.

  • Investigate this image of the Hubble Space Telescope that Mike repaired. Have students write two questions to ask Mike during the show.

  • Read this short article about the famous ‘Blue Marble’ image taken by astronauts in 1972. Ask students to write about what it would have been like to be the astronauts on the Apollo 17 mission who took this picture.

  • As a class, watch the film Star Search (4:20) to learn more about how astrophysicists search for planets.

  • Use the Planetary Size and Distance Comparison (50 minutes) activity to help students use metric measurement to investigate the relative size and distance of the planets in our solar system.

  • Need more resources on space or the solar system? Check out this collection or this one!

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the program they will attend and, who the speaker is, and offer a brief description of the speaker’s topic(s). Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the Graphic Organizer Collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example: 

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers, and then conduct research about the speaker and their topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework. Have each student share a question and answer with the class. 

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes. Have students share and discuss their notes after the show.

 After the Show:

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Mike Massimino. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms with which they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Mike Massimino shared. Ask: What role did place play in Mike Massimino’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story? Note: You may need to introduce the concept of place for your students before they can answer and discuss these questions. 

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that the speaker used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Mike Massimino use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using the information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one-half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Mike Massimino talk about today? In what ways does Mike Massimino demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support the speakers’ work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the speakers make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?

Apollo Program

(1960-1975) NASA program of space flights with a goal of humans going to the moon and back.


person who takes part in space flights.


person who studies the relationship between matter, energy, motion, and force outside the Earth's atmosphere.


story of a person's life.




desire to know more about a subject.


to give authority or power.


study and investigation of unknown places, concepts, or issues.

Hubble Space Telescope

(1990-present) large, versatile NASA telescope orbiting the Earth.


to carry out plans.


force that effects the actions, behavior, or policies of others.


courageous and bold.


to study or examine in order to learn a series of facts.

mechanical engineering

study of the design, production, and operation of tools and machinery.

metric system

series of standard weights and measurements used by most countries (except the United States, Liberia, and Burma) and throughout the scientific world. Also called the International System of Units or SI.


path of one object around a more massive object.


lasting, stubborn, or tenacious.


being accountable and reliable for an action or situation.

solar system

the sun and the planets, asteroids, comets, and other bodies that orbit around it.


set of terms used in a specialized subject.