Challenger Center to Work with International Space Station Astronauts to Complete Christa McAuliffe's Planned Lessons

Press Release From: Challenger Center for Space Science Education
Posted: Friday, January 19, 2018


Challenger Center, a leading science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education organization, today announced that several of the lessons Christa McAuliffe planned to perform aboard the Challenger shuttle during the Teacher in Space mission will be completed aboard the International Space Station (ISS) this year. Challenger Center, in collaboration with NASA and STEM on Station, will work with astronauts Joe Acaba, currently aboard the ISS, and Ricky Arnold, scheduled to arrive in March, to film the lessons.

“We are thrilled to work with NASA’s educator astronauts to bring Christa’s lessons to life,” said Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “For more than 30 years, we have continued the mission of the Challenger crew, reaching more than 5 million students with our hands-on STEM programs. We are honored to have the opportunity to complete Christa’s lessons and share them with students and teachers around the world.”

Acaba and Arnold are both former educators and will film the activities over the next several months.

The lesson topics will include effervescence, chromatography, liquids in zero-g, and Newton’s law. Several of the lessons will be completed as originally planned by Christa and a few will be reimagined based on materials available aboard the ISS. The videos will be released alongside corresponding classroom lessons and available on Challenger Center’s website ( beginning this spring.

“Filming Christa McAuliffe’s lessons in orbit this year is an incredible way to honor and remember her and the Challenger crew,” said Mike Kincaid, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Office of Education. “Developed with such care and expertise by Christa, the value these lessons will have as new tools available for educators to engage and inspire students in STEM is what will continue to advance a true legacy of Challenger’s mission.”

Christa McAuliffe was a high school teacher who made history when she became the first teacher selected to go into space. She had planned to film several demonstrations to be used as a part of educational packages distributed to students and teachers across the globe. The crew of the Challenger shuttle died tragically on the morning of Jan. 28, 1986 when the shuttle broke apart just 73 seconds after launch.

The announcement comes prior to the 32nd anniversary of the Challenger accident and was made by Acaba during a downlink hosted by Challenger Center and the McAuliffe Center at Framingham State University (FSU). FSU is Christa McAuliffe’s alma mater and home to one of Challenger Center’s 43 Challenger Learning Centers.  Both the Christa McAuliffe lesson collaboration and downlink at FSU are part of NASA’s Year of Education on Station initiative.

For more information about Challenger Center, please visit or connect on Facebook and Twitter. 

About Challenger Center

As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center provides more than 250,000 students annually with experiential education programs that engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs, delivered in Challenger Learning Centers and classrooms, strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created by the Challenger families to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L.

Lisa Vernal
Vice President of Communications

Challenger Center
2017 National Science Board (NSB) Public Service Award Recipient
422 First Street SE, Washington, DC 20003

Main: 202-827-1580 |Direct: 202-827-1573

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“The fact that their learning experiences remain current—changing and growing with trends and technological advancements—demonstrates their commitment to the mission and to those that they continue to serve. One student at a time, Challenger Center inspires the kind of curiosity that leads to further exploration and success in STEM fields.” - NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards


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