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Challenger Center Statement in Advance of Today's Senate Hearing on NASA Budget

Press Release From: Challenger Center for Space Science Education
Posted: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

image February 24, 2010 - Alexandria, VA - Challenger Center for Space Science Education released the following statement in advance of today's Senate hearing on the NASA FY 2011 budget proposal:

Challenger Center for Space Science Education fully supports NASA's expanded educational activities, as embodied in the proposed 2011 budget.

After a few years in which education had a less important role, NASA's leadership has put education back into a level one priority. Education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is essential not just for NASA's future, but for our nation. NASA has a unique power to excite and educate students and NASA's proposed budget embraces this essential role in education and in our society.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education was established nearly 25 years ago, in the wake of the Challenger space shuttle tragedy. Over these years, it has established a national network of nearly 50 Challenger Learning Centers, taking students on simulated space missions. These highly engaging experiences reach 400,000 students every year. As the space shuttle era winds down, Challenger Center's mission couldn't be more important, as a way to sustain student and public interest in space exploration, and in the broader STEM domains.

"No matter what pathway our nation chooses for space exploration, we will need an engaged, motivated and educated workforce," said Daniel Barstow, President of the Challenger Center. "NASA's missions of exploration and discovery strike a deep chord in our nation's soul. This is especially true for young people, who need to envision themselves as participants in this grand adventure, whether as engineers, astronauts, scientists or simply as engaged and enthralled citizens."

NASA's education budget includes a strong combination of national programs, such as the new Summer of Innovation initiative, along with educational outreach embedded into NASA's diverse Earth, space and aerospace programs. Challenger Center especially supports the expanded use of International Space Station and the multi-faceted Earth observation programs as ways to engage young people in understanding and stewarding our home planet. These programs also have strong tie-ins with broader national goals of developing technologies for wind, solar and other alternative energies - thus making the connection between space exploration and other STEM fields.

"The contributions, and sacrifices, of the NASA family over the past half century live on - and they must be passed on. But you need a vibrant, active space program, and its educational outreach, in place in order for that to be possible," said June Scobee Rodgers, Founding Chairman of Challenger Center.

The Space and Science Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation meets today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time. The hearing will be broadcast live on NASA TV at http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.

Challenger Center Board Member Miles O'Brien, Journalist and host of "This Week in Space," will testify at today's hearing, as well as NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr.; Robert "Hoot" Gibson, former NASA Astronaut; Michael J. Snyder, Aerospace Engineer; and A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Retired).

About Challenger Center

Using space exploration as a theme and simulations as a vehicle, Challenger Center and its international network of nearly 50 Challenger Learning Centers create positive educational experiences that raise students' expectations of success, fosters a long-term interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and inspires students to pursue studies and careers in these areas. Challenger Center's network of Challenger Learning Centers across the United States and in Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Korea reach more than 400,000 students each year through simulated space missions and educational programs, and engage over 40,000 educators through missions, teacher workshops and other programs. To learn more about Challenger Center for Space Science Education, visit www.challenger.org.

Contact:

Rob Cork, Director of Communications
rcork@challenger.org
703-535-1361
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
300 N. Lee Street, Suite 301,
Alexandria, VA 22314

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