December 16, 2009 – Alexandria, VA – Challenger Center for Space Science Education has received a $1.2 million dollar grant from NASA to create a high school version of its signature spaceflight simulations Encounter Earth and Return to the Moon. Currently, 47 Challenger Learning Centers across the nation and around the world work with more than 300,000 (primarily middle school) students each year through immersive, hands-on experiences that introduce students to NASA’s goals and the thrill of space flight and discovery. Challenger Learning Centers use innovative, simulated space flights-the next best thing to actual space flight-to teach students and train teachers in NASA science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Challenger Center, through its unique Space Act Agreement with NASA, will partner on this grant with a wide range of NASA groups including NASA’s Teaching from Space office, NASA scientists and engineers, as well a number of diverse Challenger Learning Centers and high schools to develop the new missions focused on the real-world challenges of NASA’s Earth and space science programs. “Far more than field trips, these are deeply grounded learning experiences that engage students, transforming them into scientists, engineers, or researchers by placing them in simulated space missions where they solve real-life challenges”, said Rita Karl, Director of Education for Challenger Center.

Dan Barstow, Challenger Center’s President, noted “These new high school missions will help Challenger Center to deepen its reach across the nation by providing much needed science, technology, engineering and mathematics educational opportunities for secondary educators and their students”. According to NASA, the selected proposals leverage NASA’s unique contributions to enhance secondary students’ academic experiences and improve educators’ abilities to engage and stimulate their students. The chosen projects demonstrate innovative approaches to using NASA-themed content to improve teaching and learning, with a particular emphasis on high school education.

About Challenger Center

Using space exploration as a theme and simulations as a vehicle, Challenger Center and its international network of 47 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 300,000 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