Christa McAuliffe

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of Christa McAuliffe’s selection as the first Teacher in Space. (Note to summer school teachers:  there is a great clip of this event on the "History in the Making, 1986" video on unitedstreaming. You can find it easily by clicking Learning Tools/Calendar/July 19).  As I’ve been watching the events leading up to the launch of the newest Space Shuttle (aptly named Discovery;), it has served as a great reminder of the incredible things teachers do to inspire their students.

I have always admired Christa McAuliffe for her bravery, dedication to teaching, and the sense of adventure that led her to apply for the Teacher in Space program.  (I’d like to think I would have jumped on an opportunity like that when I was teaching — although that’s easy to say from the comfort of my desk –  I suspect in reality I might have hidden under my bed instead.) 

I saw a poll the other day asking people if, given the chance, they would become a teacher in the space program.  At the time I took the poll the answers were split almost even with 49% yes, 51% no.

What do you think?   If the opportunity were presented to you, would you become a Teacher in Space?  What other kinds of expeditions or adventures would you like to go on, or have you gone on, to further students knowledge?


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  1. Rachel said:

    20 years!! Oh my goodness…. I vividly remember watching the Challenger explosion on TV when i was in 2nd grade. I remember talking to students about it a few years ago when I was substitute teaching…. not only was it not an important event to them, they really were not aware of it. I suspect that it is a fairly tramatic topic for a lot of people who saw it happen (similar to the assassination of JFK). I wonder if those who were to young to see if will jump without hesitation at the oppotunity to go to space.

    Irregardless… given the chance to go, I’d go. I would definitely calculate the risk and worry a bit about going…. but I’d absolutely go!

  2. Hall Davidson said:

    I remember the Challenger incident well. I was working at a PBS station and we had materials in hand ready to go when Christa McAuliffe began her lessons in space. I still have those classroom lesson guides. Anyone have an idea of what I should do with them? Ebay seems very inappropriate.
    Also, I remember filling out to be a Teacher in Space (the spot McAuliffe won)and having a huge argument with my wife about it. She was worried and I said “What can happen–this is NASA?”. There was no chance for a California teacher to win–CA had too much of the aerospace work–but it does make one rethink any hard truths about infallibility.

  3. Jannita Demian said:

    I also have a permanent image in my mind of the day the Challenger exploded. At the time, I was still in school and would dream of the day I would be a teacher in space. Interesting how dreams can quickly turn to tragedies. But, still she made a great impact in education, one that would not be forgotten. In fact, in New Hampshire they hold a technology conference for educators every year in her honor. Check out their website . This year, one of the Key Speakers is Marc Prensky, mentioned in a previous blog (Engage Me or Enrage me). Looks like an exciting conference to be at.

  4. David Loniewski said:

    I was in the 8th Grade when the Challanger disaster occurred. I remember being outside on the school grounds waiting for the doors to open to let us in for lunch. (We were allowed to leave the property to eat lunch at home or at a local eatery.) The news spread throughout the kids outside like wildfire. It was such a shock because we, as a class were following the story for several weeks. I was so interested because an ordinary person, a teacher like mine at the time, was going into space. A place where only a handful of people had been before to share her experience with the rest of us ordinary people. I had the opportunity to Honor Christa McAuliffe through the “Reach for the Stars Program”, in which my schools students, over the course of several months, participated in a school wide interdisciplinary project to honor her. We concluded the program with a simulated Space Launch and Data Collecting Mission, with about 20 students, thru the Buehler Challenger & Science Center. Christa’s Mother and Brother watched the Lauch via live video with about 600 students in our theater. Very remarkable people. Her brother is an avid rock and mineral collector. He brought in some of his finds and shared them with the kids. The kids were very receptive.

  5. Katie said:

    Yes, I would go into space in a heartbeat! I also sent for the application to be the teacher in space but a special delivery came instead…a new baby! To honor Christa McAuliffe there are Challenger Learning Centers to help students learn about space. There are neat e.missions your students can participate in and programs at the centers! Here is a website to find a Challenger Center near you.

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