Challenger Center Partners with TERC's Windows on Earth Program

Press Release From: Challenger Center for Space Science Education
Posted: Friday, October 3, 2008


Alexandria, VA and Cambridge, MA - Challenger Center for Space Science Education is partnering with the new release of TERC's Windows on Earth website that allows students, teachers and the general public to experience in simulated real time the view from the International Space Station (ISS). Challenger Center is creating with TERC a series of classroom and web-based activities using the exciting new software, which can be found at [ ]. The activities will debut over the next few months on the Challenger Center's national educational website [ ] Using the Challenger activities with the Windows on Earth software students can explore the orbital path of the ISS that allows astronauts the opportunity to take photographs of the Earth and contributes greatly to scientists and citizens' understanding of the Earth. The new activities will focus on building awareness of climate change and planetary stewardship and include, How do we track the space station's location? and How do astronauts take a photo from space?.

Students will compare current astronaut and satellite images to those from decades past to predict future changes in the Earth's environment. Students will use a special Guided Tour of the Windows on Earth program that allows them to observe the Earth from space as the astronauts do from the ISS and specifically analyze visible changes between the past and present such as clear cutting of forests, burning of fields, glacial recession, urban sprawl, the damming of rivers to create lakes, and coastal and mountain erosion due to tsunamis and volcanoes. Challenger Center will allow students to share their snapshots, predictions and new solutions with other students and classrooms around the world through an on-line forum, and encourage students to take ownership of an area of the world that they care about, and participate in a long-term engagement with NASA through selecting future targets for astronaut photography. By using these activities students will explore ways of preserving our environment and describe actions they can take to protect and preserve our planet's ecosystems.

"The ramifications for students and the public is profound," according to Dan Barstow, director of the Center for Science Teaching and Learning at TERC. "Their view of the Earth is no longer restricted to glossy photos in a book but they can actually see what is happening on Earth with a space-age perspective, and with it their understanding of Earth is transformed," he said. In partnership with the upcoming mission by private space explorer Richard Garriott, Challenger Center and TERC have previously partnered on an activity where students from Challenger Learning Centers selected important environmental targets for astronaut photography during Garriott's mission. "I am very excited to be using the TERC Windows on Earth software to aid in my Earth observation experiments." said Garriott.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded in 1986 by the families of the astronauts of the space shuttle Challenger 51-L mission and is dedicated to the educational spirit of that mission. Challenger Learning Center programs at 50 centers continue the crew's mission of engaging teachers and students in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. Visit [ ].

Founded in 1965, TERC's mission is to improve math, science, and technology teaching and learning. Each year, TERC's programs and products reached more than 3.5 million students in the United States and abroad. The Windows on Earth software was developed by TERC and the Association of Space Explorers with support from the National Science Foundation. Visit [ ].


For Challenger Center information, please contact:

Rita Karl, Director of Educational Programs
703-535-1345; [ ]

For TERC information, please contact:

Michal Regunberg
617-933-5280; [

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