Staracer Academy - Canadian Science Virtual Learning Centre

About StarAcer Academy

StarAcer Academy is a science education and space outreach project. It uses Comics, Missions and Adventure to engage youth in space, technology and science learning.

Our Comics increase literacy.

Our Missions adhere to the science curriculum standards of Canada.

Our Goal is to share the wonderment and amazing facts about space, technology and science! Especially with youth :)

StarAcer Academy has the support of several large agencies including the Canadian Space Agency, International Space University, the University of Victoria, the United Nations Space Advisory Council, NSERC and others.

StarAcer Academy was created by Dr. Geoff Steeves and artist, Luke Gustafson.

Dr. Geoff Steeves
Dr. Geoff Steeves Bio Image - StarAcer AcademyA passionate science educator, Dr. Steeves is a physics professor at the University of Victoria. He co-founded the StarAcer Academy, which was inspired by his experiences as a top 16 finalist in the Canadian Space Agency’s latest Astronaut Recruitment Campaign. Dr. Steeves is a faculty member at the International Space University and in 2014 he will chair the Space Sciences Department at SSP14 in Montréal.


Luke Gustafson
Luke Gustafson Bio Image - StarAcer AcademyLuke is a co-founder and one of the artists who writes and illustrates StarAcer Academy. He's also a Gemini and Emmy Award winning animation director. Luke and Geoff created StarAcer Academy to promote space outreach content for kids and share their optimism about technology and science.


History of StarAcers

Geoff Steeves was selected to partake in the Canadian Space Agencies (CSA) astronaut recruitment campaign of 2009. Out of 5300 applicants Geoff made it to the top 16.  It was a moment he had trained and prepared for for many years. He journaled about his experience on facebook to share with friends and family.

Immediately friends and family rallied with their enthusiastic support and best wishes.

Some of Geoff's friends felt that "Astro Notes" should have an extended life as a book or a comic. That it was a valuable, thrilling, real life story that should be shared further. That the story had a life of it's own. Elyne Quan felt this explicitly and put her mind to aiding in the transition from facebook journal to something more.

Elyne thought of artist, fellow Star Trek fan and space enthusiast, Luke Gustafson. She connected Luke and Geoff.

After their first call Luke did a sketch based on one of Geoff's journal entries "Astro Notes 6 - The Dunker".

"Me and my instructor were now 30 feet above the pool. The helicopter was gone and had been replaced with a life raft. The calm water replaced with mighty waves. I donned a life jacket which would be useless if i missed the pool."

That first sketch galvanized a partnership and collaborative effort.

Geoff and Luke felt from the outset that the story contained something greater than just a comic book. That the content was more than an adventurous true life story. They felt that perhaps it could be shaped to engage kids, that perhaps the story of space and space exploration could be shaped to appeal to everybody!

They branded this idea Star Blazers (renamed StarAcers May 2011).

Geoff started writing more stories and Luke started doing more drawings...

Geoff's stories and real life experiences ranged from sailing, to SCUBA diving, to pilots training, to building a cryostat, to going through the selection process for the CSA, to training on the Canadarm, to team building, through to failing and ultimately to succeeding. 

 Below is a page excerpt from the comic roughs for Geoff's first arrival at the CSA headquarters.

An early concept comic page.

Another concept page. These concept pages were used to share the idea of science comics for kids.

Here you see the process unfold. This is the rough sketch of the cover of the 2011 comic.

This is the cleaned up line work of the cover.

And here is the final version of the cover of the 2011 comic.

A brutally rough sketch of the final page of the 2011 comic.

Concept art of the BZT, the central StarAcer Academy building. The 2012 comic concept emerging.

Here's the second page of the 2012 comic. Looks pretty cool... and an interesting leap from the first drawing. However as you can see it was an incremental process of improvement and change that happened over a 24 month period.

The first priority of Star Acers  is to tell compelling science adventure stories of right now, real world space and technology. Geoff and Luke want to convey that "way out there" is within arms reach.

Everyday advances are made that bridge the gap between science fiction and the real world. Sooner than we think, in fact right now, outer-space is a viable career choice for our children. Geoff and Luke want to help facilitate those opportunities both within the school system, in the home and online.

Here's a diagram outlining Phase 01 (currently being deployed), Phase 02 (2013-2015), and Phase 03 (2016 and beyond...)

Geoff and Luke want to provide an exciting learning platform for the present and the immediate future. We propose to do that through Star Acers the comic book and missions (to start), educational video games, animated series and movies, and interactive, learning websites and apps.

Thank you for your interest! If you'd like to use Star Acers in the class room, provide feedback, talk to us about getting involved, donate to our not-for-profit or submit your own science lesson plans.

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