Astronauts teach "lost lessons" to honor Challenger Shuttle astronaut, Christa McAuliffe
Astronauts teach "lost lessons" to honor Challenger Shuttle astronaut, Christa McAuliffe NASA Teacher-in-Space trainee Sharon Christa McAuliffe (right) and backup Barbara R. Morgan practice experiments during a zero-gravity training flight on October 16, 1985. (NASA)
Astronauts teach "lost lessons" to honor Challenger Shuttle astronaut, Christa McAuliffe
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Christa McAuliffe was NASA’s first designated teacher in space. She had prepared lessons to record during her time aboard the space shuttle Challenger. But she never had the chance to carry out her plan. On January 28, 1986, just 73 seconds into its flight, the ship exploded. It killed McAuliffe and six other crew members on board.

Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold are two teachers-turned-astronauts. They will pay tribute to McAuliffe and her work. They plan to record these “lost lessons” while on the International Space Station. They plan to do this over the next several months. That's according to Marcia Dunn reporting for Associated Press.

McAuliffe taught history and law. She also taught economics. She taught at Concord High School in New Hampshire. She did this prior to joining NASA as part of President Reagan’s Teacher in Space program. That's according to Marina Koren reporting for The Atlantic. “I will be filming lessons and trying to stay out of the way.” That's what McAuliffe said in a biography by Grace George Corrigan, Koren writes. “In fact, learning to avoid being a nuisance represents the biggest part of my training. I can look — but not touch!”

She prepared a mix of live performances and prerecorded lessons. They were intended to be released during the Challenger mission. After the explosion, her “lost lessons” fell by the wayside during investigations and other research. The recorded lessons and practice sessions were eventually released along with descriptions by a NASA educational specialist. All are now hosted by the Challenger Center.

The astronauts announced their plans during a TV linkup with students. The students were at McAullife’s alma mater, Framingham State University, Dunn writes. The lessons will be recorded and hosted online for the public by the Challenger Center. That's according to Marquita Harris reporting for Refinery29.

Four of McAuliffe’s six lessons will be filmed. They will be modified to take advantage of equipment available on the space station. The lessons will cover effervescence (bubbles) and chromatography (a chemical separation technique). They will cover liquids and Newton’s laws of motion.

Acaba is currently on the space station. He will return to earth at the end of February. Arnold will be part of the replacement crew launching in March. Both have a background in education. They taught middle and high school math and science prior to their selection as educator-astronauts. That was in 2004. Acaba taught in Florida, Koren writes. 

Arnold taught in Maryland and Morocco. He taught in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. He also taught in Romania. NASA is calling the back-to-back mission by educator-astronauts a “Year of Education on Station.” The lost lessons will join short “STEMonstration” videos the duo are recording that feature various scientific concepts.

Acaba is also completing an indirect tribute to McAuliffe by journaling his time in space. McAuliffe planned to keep a journal during her space shuttle mission, Dunn writes. When asked by a student if they would do the same, Acaba revealed he’s been journaling throughout his 14-year astronaut career. “When I’m sitting on my porch sometime in the future, I’ll look back on all these great times,” Acaba told the students.

McAuliffe’s backup for the Challenger mission was Idaho elementary school teacher Barbara Morgan. She became the first teacher in space twelve years later during construction of the space station. Morgan is currently on the board of the Challenger Center honoring the McAuliffe and the rest of the crew.

If all goes smoothly, the lost lessons will be available online this spring.

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How will teaching the lessons be a tribute to Christa McAuliffe?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • LizziM-dec
    3/23/2018 - 02:27 p.m.

    I find this very interesting.

  • Sabina-E2
    4/09/2018 - 10:34 a.m.

    I think that it is really cool that they are teaching "lost lessons" to astronauts and I think it is completely reasonable because, who knows, they might get lost in space one day and not know what to do.

  • TatyM-ilc
    7/27/2018 - 05:46 p.m.

    It will be interesting to see lessons about space from an astronaut´s point of view, but the most exciting thing will be that the research will be explained by a teacher.

  • AngelicaL-ilc
    7/29/2018 - 04:56 p.m.

    The fact that the new astrunauts continued the work of an excellent teacher whose objective was to reach their students with experiments that help them to develop their imagination is the best way to honor her legacy.

  • GustavoC-ilc
    7/29/2018 - 05:13 p.m.

    The realization of her work will be a tribute to Christa McAulife because that was her persuit when she was alive.

  • CarlosG-ilc
    7/29/2018 - 07:35 p.m.

    The researcher could be explained his or her classes with practical cases in the simulation area.

  • MartinF-ilc
    7/29/2018 - 09:35 p.m.

    Teaching was the passion and the main objective of Christa McAuliffe. She was not able to accomplish her job because of her lethal accident, but fortunately, others took her ideas and continued with her job, and by doing so, the world would remember her, and learn a lot from those lessons. Therefore, teaching the lessons should have been the best tribute to McAuliffe.

  • ChristianH-ilc
    7/29/2018 - 10:21 p.m.

    Christa McAuliffe became an important person when she decided to enter in President Reagan’s Teacher in Space program. As a result, she was a famous teacher, so she wanted to share some science lessons, but she did not carry out her plans. Now, two teachers inspired by Christa carry out her original plans in order to commemorate her ideas as legacy, so her original lessons will inpired many people like she had wanted.

  • MajoR-ilc
    7/30/2018 - 12:32 p.m.

    Teaching lost lessons will be a tribute to Christa because she wanted to share her knowledge , but he couldn't accomplish her plan. Joe and Ricky will continue with her legacy , and people will know her. Moreover, she will be remembered for her important contribution to austronauts education.

  • JoseG-ilc
    7/30/2018 - 03:14 p.m.

    Made McAuliffe´s experiments on the space station after Challenger burst is a good tribute for all Challenger´s crew.

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