Challenger Center Marks 27th Anniversary of Space Shuttle Tragedy


image STEM Education Remains at the Forefront of the Organization's Mission

WASHINGTON (January 25, 2013) - On Monday January 28, Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center) will recognize the anniversary of the Challenger tragedy as it continues its work to strengthen students' interest and knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). The non-profit organization was formed as a living tribute to the seven members of the crew and is dedicated to the educational spirit of their mission.

Challenger Center and its network of Challenger Learning Centers will recognize the anniversary in a variety of ways, including launching rockets, writing letters about how the crew provided inspiration, and designing commemorative anniversary badges. The Challenger Center staff will visit the memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

"It has been 27 years since we lost Challenger and its seven crew members, a crew who had grand plans for discovery and adventure," said Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chair, Challenger Center, and widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee. "On that day, we lost the beloved crew, but not their desire to help teach a nation of children waiting and watching with eager anticipation."

The organization's first Challenger Learning Center opened in 1988, and today there are more than 45 locations around the globe. The core of each Learning Center is an interactive computerized simulator with a mission control room patterned after the NASA Johnson Space Center, and an orbiting space station ready for exploration. Each year, more than 400,000 students participate in space-themed missions that have been developed to strengthen the student's knowledge and interest in STEM.

Ensuring today's students have a deep understanding of STEM subject areas is at the root of Challenger Center's work. STEM jobs are projected to grow at a fast pace relative to other occupations, and the majority of the fastest growing occupations require significant math or science preparation to successfully compete for a job. Today, a lack of skills in STEM subject areas is said to be the reasoning for many of the nation's vacant positions.

"Each of us on this Earth share a responsibility to ensure that our young people are prepared for opportunities to thrive and lead fulfilling lives in a highly technical world," said Dr. Lance Bush, president and ceo, Challenger Center, "We are working tirelessly to continue the expansion of our mission, inspiring more students to become science literate citizens and pursue STEM careers."

Challenger Center recognizes the importance of identifying new, innovative ways to reach students. This includes developing new technology platforms, creating new lessons and bringing Learning Centers to new communities. In 2013, Challenger Center plans to welcome three new Learning Centers to its network.

"Challenger Center continues the educational mission of Challenger and its seven crew members through our global network of Challenger Learning Centers," said Dr. Scott Parazynski, chairman, Challenger Center. "Today's students are our future leaders. Each year we engage hundreds of thousands of students as they fly missions of discovery through outer and inner space. Over our long history, these hands-on experiences have inspired many to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. This is the vital and continuing mission of Challenger Center, and it is a true honor to be a part the Challenger crew's legacy."

The seven crew members of shuttle flight STS-51-L - Commander Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith - were part of the first Teacher in Space Project. The NASA program, announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, was designed to inspire students, honor teachers, and spur interest in mathematics, science, and space exploration. Christa McAuliffe was selected by NASA to be the first teacher in space.

"Our loved ones were space pioneers, something we wanted the entire world to remember," continued Scobee Rodgers. "With the Challenger families and support from leaders across our nation, Challenger Center for Space Science Education was created to continue their education mission. And today, this living tribute honors that mission - to explore, discover and teach."

About Challenger Center for Space Science Education

Using space exploration as a theme and simulation as a vehicle, Challenger Center for Space Science Education and its international network of more than 45 Challenger Learning Centers create positive educational experiences that raise students' expectations of success, foster long-term interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and inspire students to pursue studies and careers in these areas. Challenger Center's network of Challenger Learning Centers across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Korea reach more than 400,000 students each year through simulated space missions and educational programs and engage more than 40,000 educators through missions, teacher workshops, and other programs. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center for Space Science Education was created to honor the seven astronauts of shuttle flight STS-51-L: Commander Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. To learn more about Challenger Center for Space Science Education visit www.challenger.org

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Lisa Vernal
Director of Communications
Challenger Center for Space Science Education - Please note the new address and phone number!
422 First Street SE, 3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20003
Main Office: 202-827-1580
Direct: 202-827-1573
lvernal@challenger.org

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