Press Release

Challenger Center names NASA Veteran Educator, Director of Educational Programs

By SpaceRef Editor
October 22, 2007
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Alexandria, VA – The Challenger Center for Space Science is pleased announce that Rita Karl has been named Director of Educational Programs. Ms. Karl has over 20 years of national and international experience designing and directing educational programs for NASA and in U.S. international development. Recently, Ms. Karl trained over 2500 teachers in project-based technology-enhanced teaching and learning directing a program in the Middle East. Ms. Karl also designed NASA’s first on-line interactive mentoring program that has inspired nearly 5000 students to study the core subject areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and consider careers in the aerospace industry.

Ms. Karl brings her multi-faceted background, including over a decade as a teacher, to support Challenger Center’s national efforts to engage over 400,000 students each year in positive learning experiences. Challenger Center programs raise student’s expectations of success by fostering a long-term interest in STEM motivating them to pursue a career in these fields. The network of 50 Challenger Learning Centers across the U.S. train more than 25,000 teachers annually to incorporate project-based learning and use the theme of space exploration to engage students in critical thinking, decision-making, communication and teamwork.

Leading Challenger Center’s efforts to design educational programs, Ms. Karl produced the widely successful downlink with educator astronaut Barbara Morgan from space this past August. This event brought together students from across the country in a lesson led by teacher in space Barbara Morgan, thus fulfilling the dream of the families of the Challenger 51-L crew that included teacher Christa McAuliffe.

Ms. Karl hopes that Challenger Center’s educational programs will continue to “positively impact the way teachers teach and students learn by enhancing standards-based curricula across the country”. Ms. Karl believes that Challenger’s new series of web casts in support of these educational programs and allow students to interact with NASA scientists and engineers “will bring the excitement of space science directly into the classroom”.

To learn more about Challenger Center for Space Science Education’s educational programs, to sign up for web casts and to locate a Challenger Learning Centers in your state, please visit

The Challenger Center for Space Science Education was founded in 1986 by the families of the astronauts of the space shuttle Challenger 51-L mission. It is dedicated to the educational spirit of that mission.

Shannon Rush
Development Associate
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
1250 North Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Direct 703-535-1352
Inspiring, Exploring, Learning
It’s been our mission for 20 years…And the mission continues.

SpaceRef staff editor.