Alexandria, VA – Missions to the Moon and to Mars and interactive climate change exhibits are among the projects NASA has selected to receive agency funding. A total of nine informal education providers, including four Challenger Learning Centers, will share $6.2 million in grants through NASA’s Competitive Program for Science Museums and Planetariums.

“We congratulate our Challenger Learning Centers and their partners on receiving these significant grants to reach people in their communities and beyond,” said Dan Barstow, Challenger Center President. “These projects certainly celebrate the work that we are doing every day to reach students, teachers, and the public through our space science education programs,” he continued.

“These projects develop and deliver cutting edge educational resources in science, technology, engineering and math. The “Climate Change” project uses Alaska as a base for understanding climate change in the arctic regions. The “Mission to Mars” project uses high-tech telecommunications to link Challenger students and the Museum of Science and Industry to explore a virtual Mars. “Challenger Reach 2 U” extends our impact to underserved communities, including Hispanic and Native American students,” said Barstow.

Challenger Learning Centers will be leading or partnering with other organizations on the following projects:

Climate Change: NASA’s Eyes on the Arctic – $979,766
Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai, Alaska

In partnership with the University of Alaska Museum of the North, the Imaginarium Discovery Center at the Anchorage Museum, and scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, this project will develop permanent and traveling exhibits and programs that feature climate change data collected by NASA Earth-orbiting satellites. The Magic Planet digital video globe will be used for program delivery. Many rural communities throughout Alaska will be reached directly.

Challenger Reach 2 U – $460,638
Challenger Learning Center of Colorado in Colorado Springs, Colorado

This four-year project will reach more than 2,500 fourth-grade students each year from underserved communities throughout southwest Colorado and northwestern New Mexico, including primarily rural, lower socio-economic status, Hispanic and Native American districts. The project includes assessment, teacher training, industry speakers, and a live event featuring “Moon, Mars and Beyond” to encourage students to pursue career fields in STEM subject areas. Two traveling mission technology kits will be made available for districts that do not meet the necessary technology requirements.

Mission to Mars:
An Urban/Rural Collaborative to Inspire NASA’s Next Generation – $964,946
Challenger Learning Center at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois
Challenger Learning Center for Science and Technology in Woodstock, Illinois

A new strategic alliance with educators and middle school students in grades 6-8 in Chicago Public Schools, the Museum of Science and Industry, two Challenger Learning Centers, schools serving students in rural and suburban areas of Illinois, and two NASA Centers will jointly develop a live distance learning program called Mission to Mars. Complementary pre- and post-program materials for use in classrooms will be developed by the partnership. Professional development workshops for teachers and preparatory sessions for NASA scientists and engineers will enhance the efficacy of program delivery.

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 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


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