Bluffview Elementary School Physical Education Teacher Kathy Lund, left, poses with NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, Sonny
Bluffview Elementary School Physical Education Teacher Kathy Lund, left, poses with NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, Sonny Carter Training Facility in Houston, Texas. Lund was working with NASA to expand their Train Like an Astronaut physical education program. (Courtesy of Kathy Lund)

FARMINGTON — Lending her expertise to a NASA program is one of the highlights of Kathy Lund's career.

Last week, the Bluffview Elementary School teacher traveled to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to help expand curriculum for its Train Like an Astronaut program.

"The trip was once in a lifetime experience," Lund said. "I felt totally blessed for the opportunity. It was exciting. I never expected it."

The goal of the program is to provide 8 to 12 year olds a scientific and physical approach to health and fitness. It was designed to help students participate in physical activities modeled after the requirements of astronauts traveling to space.

Lund traveled to the center with six teachers, all of whom were named Physical Education Teachers of the Year by the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 2012. Lund was the teacher of the year for the Southwest District.

Initially, the alliance planned to send its 2013 physical education teachers of the year to the space center. But because those teachers were in a training, the 2012 teachers got to go.

On July 15, the group of teachers arrived at the space center, which is the headquarters for NASA astronaut training, and they spent the week touring the facilities and developing lessons for the program. The teachers also learned how astronauts train for trips into outer space.

"We had the opportunity to work with the astronauts and work out with the engineers," Lund said. "We saw how the astronauts exercised to prepare for orbit."

Learning about the astronaut training helped Lund and the other teachers develop additional lessons based on the NASA curriculum.

Working in pairs, Lund and her partner developed a warm-up and a cool-down activity for the program. Lund stressed to the students how important warming up is before exercising.

"Before (students) exercise, they don't realize they need to warm-up," Lund said. "We wanted to stress the importance for safety reasons. You can get injured if you don't warm-up properly before exercise."

Lund said that after the lessons were tested and added to the curriculum, she was interested introducing the program to her Bluffview students.

"It's an emotional hook to get kids excited about physical activity," she said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.