Press Release

NASA Launches Lunar Challenge Program at NASA Explorer Schools in Mississippi

By SpaceRef Editor
July 7, 2005
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NASA Launches Lunar Challenge Program at NASA Explorer Schools in Mississippi

HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. – NASA is returning to the Moon, and Stennis Space Center (SSC) is piloting a national program to help students at local NASA Explorer Schools prepare for the journey.

Two local NASA Explorer Schools supported by SSC will launch the Lunar Challenge program when classes resume in the fall. Bay-Waveland Middle School in Bay St. Louis and North Gulfport Middle School in Gulfport will be among the first group of NASA Explorer Schools to participate in Lunar Challenge.

Lunar Challenge is a four-week program in which 15 parent-child teams work together to plan a lunar colony. Lunar Challenge exposes families to the Vision for Space Exploration – NASA’s journey back to the Moon, then to Mars and beyond – and also helps fulfill one of five core objectives of the NASA Explorer School program: increasing families’ involvement at the school.

“The parents get more interested in their children’s education, they start to see each other in a different light,” said Caryn Long, NASA Explorer School coordinator at SSC. “They begin working together as partners.”

Marietta Murray, sixth-grade math and science teacher and family coordinator for the NASA Explorer School program at Bay-Waveland, agreed that the Lunar Challenge program would “get parents more involved in schoolwork and using math, science and technology, and make them more aware of the NASA Explorer School program.”

Teachers from Bay-Waveland and North Gulfport schools, along with representatives from Minnesota, Florida and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio, attended an implementation session June 14-15 at Bay-Waveland Middle School to learn about the program.

“We were looking for a program that would incorporate NASA concepts and involve families in those concepts,” said sixth-grade teacher Connie Roth, who serves as NASA Explorer School team lead and Lunar Challenge project director at Bay-Waveland Middle School. “We’re excited about the program, and about achieving that goal.”

Each parent-student team is responsible for a different “system” on the lunar base, from the necessary communication systems, to food preparation and waste disposal. The systems are introduced as the teams tour the school, learning how it operates and how the students are taught in much the same way astronauts are trained.

The teams then brainstorm at home and use everyday objects to build representations of their systems’ needed equipment. The project culminates with the teams connecting their systems to form one “lunar base,” and discussing why it would be efficient for the astronauts.

The NASA Explorer School program establishes three-year partnerships annually with 50 schools, which are then eligible to receive grants over the three-year period to support student engagement in science and mathematics. During the three-year partnership, Explorer School teams work with NASA personnel to support the use of NASA content and address the schools’ local needs in mathematics, science and technology education.

For more information about NASA Explorer Schools on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA Education programs on the Internet, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs on the Internet, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.