Press Release

Challenger Center Supports President Obama’s Call to Action in STEM Education

By SpaceRef Editor
November 23, 2009
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Challenger Center Supports President Obama’s Call to Action in STEM Education

The White House Launches “Educate to Innovate” Campaign

November 23, 2009 – Alexandria, VA – Today at The White House, President Barack Obama launched the “Educate to Innovate” campaign to improve the participation and performance of America’s students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). According to The White House, the campaign “will include efforts not only from the Federal Government but also from leading companies, foundations, nonprofits, and science and engineering societies to work with young people across America to excel in science and math.”

“Challenger Center for Space Science Education supports this new campaign and looks forward to opportunities to collaborate with other people and organizations that are working, as we are, on the important issue of STEM education,” said Dan Barstow, Challenger Center President.

“Our nation certainly needs this reform. Study after study has called dramatic attention to the need to excite students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and to develop the 21st century thinking, problem solving and team work skills our nation needs for our future,” continued Barstow.

“We believe that the way to engage students in STEM education is by inspiring them,” said Challenger Center Founding Chairman, Dr. June Scobee Rodgers. “Middle school students who experience being a scientist or engineer, and who experience it successfully, are more likely to take more STEM courses in high school.”

Through the assistance of NASA, astronauts and educators, businesses and communities dedicated to increasing the quality and accessibility of STEM education, 47 interactive Challenger Learning Centers have been built across the nation and around the world, engaging more than 400,000 students each year. Challenger Learning Center educators train thousands of teachers each year in a variety of STEM disciplines, including aviation and aeronautics, space science, and astrobiology, using the inquiry-based learning model.

The Challenger Learning Center experience has been heralded as a model program in STEM by leaders in the field such as Norman R. Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin and chair of the industry report Rising Above The Gathering Storm, who described Challenger Center as “exactly what I concluded was needed” to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers to join the 21st century workforce. Challenger Center was endorsed by former Department of Labor Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Emily De Rocco as a model program that uniquely meets those needs of the STEM-oriented aerospace industry.

In 2009, Challenger Center received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Foundation Award for Excellence. Noted in the AIAA Inside Aerospace Report of 2008, “Methods should be sought to support, expand, and ‘clone’ programs like the Challenger Learning Centers, which have used space as the ‘spark plug’ to motivate STEM education interest in over 5 million children.”

About the “Educate to Innovate” campaign

The “Educate to Innovate” campaign is led by Craig Barrett, former CEO and Chairman of Intel Corporation; Glenn Britt, Chairman, President and CEO of Time Warner Cable; Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox Corporation; Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and CEO of Eastman Kodak Company; and Dr. Sally Ride, CEO of Sally Ride Science and the first American woman in space; in conjunction with Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. To learn more about the campaign, visit

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
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
300 N. Lee Street, Suite 301
Alexandria, VA 22314

SpaceRef staff editor.