JAN. 25, 2011 -- On Jan. 28, 1986, millions of school children joined their parents and teachers in front of television sets across America to watch Christa McAuliffe become the first teacher in space. Their anticipation soon turned to horror as the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart in the clear blue sky over Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Today, many of the children who witnessed the disaster are themselves parents of young kids. On the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, the Challenger Learning Center in St. Louis is offering an array of programs designed to help children and adults better understand the events of that fateful day and the impact it had on the United States and its space program.
The center has organized a number of programs to commemorate the tragedy. One such effort is the "Where Were You?" campaign, which encourages individuals to write or submit a video about their recollections of the disaster. Selected videos and stories will be shared on the Challenger Learning Center's Facebook and Flickr pages.
The Challenger Learning Center also is spearheading an effort to get all St. Louisans – but especially students and teachers – to wear blue on Jan. 28, 2011 to recognize the 25th anniversary and honor the Challenger crew.
Additionally, the center will be flying free Rendezvous with a Comet simulator missions all day on Jan. 28. Missions will run at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Each mission is two hours. Reservations are required and are limited to five people per party. Reservations are available by calling 314-521-6205 or sending an e-mail to [email protected].
The center also is offering videoconferences to teachers interested in incorporating the 25th anniversary of the disaster into their classroom instruction. Included in the videoconferences will be access to lesson plans that Christa McAuliffe had planned to teach from space. The videoconferences will be hosted by the Cooperating School Districts at their Creve Coeur location on Jan. 28 at 8:30, 9:15, 10, 10:45 and 11:30 a.m. Teachers interested in participating can e-mail [email protected].
Finally, the Challenger Learning Center is inviting classrooms across the St. Louis region to hold a "Quarter Drive" in honor of the disaster's anniversary. The premise of the drive is to encourage students to collect quarters to support education programs at the Challenger Learning Center. Classes that collect at least $100 will earn a class prize. Teachers can request a piggy bank for the Quarter Drive by sending an e-mail to [email protected].
The Challenger Learning Center is located in Ferguson at 205 Brotherton Lane.
Photos of Challenger Learning Center courtesy of Challenger Center-St. Louis.