Alexandria, VA - On October 2nd the Department of Education invited the Challenger Center for Space Science Education to their D.C. headquarters to host activities during an educational event with astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour (STS-118). Commander Scott Kelly, Pilot Charles Hobaugh, and Mission Specialists, Barbara Morgan (Educator Astronaut), Alvin Drew, Dr. Tracey Caldwell, and Canadian Space Agency's Dave Williams, spoke to an audience of local D.C. middle school students about their flight and careers in science and mathematics. The event concluded with Challenger Center education staff and Endeavour crew members engaging students with interactive learning activities simulating astronaut training.
Students asked questions of the crew about the excitement of spaceflight, conducting spacewalks and maneuvering the robotic arm to ensure the shuttle was in good condition to come home. Commander Kelly stressed to students that the best part of the mission was working. Dr. Caldwell talked to students about focusing on what they really liked to do as a way to choose a future career.
When asked by one student why she decided to be an astronaut, Dr. Caldwell described being inspired by her teachers as a student and by Christa McAuliffe, the first Teacher in Space. Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan, the back-up to Christa McAuliffe, who had her first flight on STS-118 fascinated students with her descriptions of maneuvering the robot arm in space, and discussed the value of working as a team.
Astronaut Alvin Drew (a D.C. Local) ended the discussion with students stating that a student in this room might be the first person to set foot on Mars. Students were then encouraged to take a personal interest in math and science by a series of with interactive learning activities simulating astronaut training with the Challenger Center education staff.
Both mission specialists Alvin Drew and Barbara Morgan participated in a live downlink with students from the Challenger Center while they were on orbit this past August. A web cast of the downlink and of the Department of Education event are showcased on the Challenger Center website at www.challenger.org.
The Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded in 1986 by the families of the astronauts of the space shuttle Challenger 51-L mission. It is dedicated to the educational spirit of that mission. Challenger Learning Center programs at 50 centers across the country continue the crew's mission of engaging teachers and students in science, mathematics and technology and foster in them an interest to pursue careers in those fields. Over 25,000 teachers and 400,000 students attend workshops and fly simulated missions annually at Challenger Learning Centers.
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
1250 North Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22311