Mio Kawamura spends much of his free time differently than his elementary school classmates.

Instead of learning piano or English, or practicing popular sports like baseball and soccer, science lessons have become a hobby for this 8-year-old infatuated with the enigma of space.

"Science is fun," said Mio, who hopes to become an astronomer. "Science isn't difficult to me. In school, there's no one I can talk to about science, but here my teacher listens to me anytime."