Holloman Air Force Base, NM, October 26, 2007 – The nonprofit Teachers In Space program announced one small step for education today, the launch of a Pathfinder Astronaut competition that will select two teachers who will be the first astronauts to fly in space and return to teach in American classrooms. What comes next could be a giant leap.
“The private sector is developing reusable suborbital spacecraft that will bring dramatic improvements in the cost and safety of human spaceflight,” said Teachers In Space project manager Edward Wright. “These new spacecraft will be terrific vehicles for education.
“Since the dawn of the space age 50 years ago, teachers have used space to inspire. Students were told that if they excelled at math and science, they could grow up to become astronauts. Until now, that has been a slim hope. A student has a better chance of becoming an NBA basketball star than a NASA astronaut. What message does that send?
“We want to turn that around. Imagine hundreds of teachers from all parts of the country flying in space every year. Imagine thousands of astronaut teachers in American schools, touching millions of students, in less than a decade. We think it will have a tremendous impact on education.”
To accomplish that goal, the Teachers In Space program needs to raise more money, develop curriculum, and prove its educational concepts on a smaller scale. For that reason, Teachers in Space is recruiting a small group of teachers to be Pathfinder Astronauts. Pathfinders will fly on flights donated to Teachers In Space by suborbital companies. They will also help develop training programs for the large numbers of teachers who follow.
The first two Pathfinder competitions announced today will demonstrate two different methods of selecting teachers to fly in space.
One competition will be for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) teachers. Applicants will submit a proposal for an experiment that can be performed on a suborbital spaceflight.
The other competition will be open to K-12 teachers from all subject areas. Applicants will submit a lesson plan or educational module based around a suborbital spaceflight. All submissions will be posted to a wiki website where they will be available to the entire educational community.
Teachers In Space is a project of the Space Frontier Foundation and the United States Rocket Academy. For application procedures and other information, visit http://tis.spacefrontier.org/.