One of Christa McAuliffe most quoted lines was, “I touch the future. I teach.” McAuliffe, the first teacher chosen to go into space, had planned to distribute science and engineering lessons and share demonstrations with students around the world. She, along with the other crew members of flight STS-51, died when their Challenger shuttle exploded 73 seconds into flight. Now, this long-mourned high school social studies teacher’s “lost lessons” have recently been updated and made available to teachers.
The initiative is a project of the Challenger Center, which reaches thousands of students every year through experiential STEM education programs. Working with NASA and its STEM on Station, the Center has completed several of the lessons McAuliffe had planned to present. The updated demonstrations were recorded on the International Space Station.
Topics include effervescence, chromatography, liquids in microgravity, and Newton’s law. The six scripted experiments include explanatory videos, standards alignment, a materials list, set up information and step-by-step instructions for teachers to use in the classroom, to prepare their students for the live lessons from space that Christa McAuliffe had planned to teach.
As the Center noted, “Using these activities, teachers can replicate what Christa was not able to share from orbit. Christa’s wonderful teaching gift and spirit are captured in the videos, and her remarks and actions in training, accomplish most of her lessons plans.”
The lessons are all openly available on the Challenger Center website.