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Center for Educational Technologies projects have ended (except Challenger Learning Center) and are no longer funded.

Challenger Flies First Missions for Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan

Tue Feb 24 2009

Children in Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan are getting a taste of NASA science through the Challenger Learning Center the last two days.

Through Challenger's e-Mission™ distance learning program, students and their teachers have been able to join flight directors in Wheeling to fly the missions that are based on NASA science. On Monday students at Hope Academy of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, took part in the Operation Montserrat e-Mission. Their teacher, Jennifer Cummings, had contacted the Challenger Learning Center about the e-Mission after seeing it highlighted on an educational website. Cummings' sixth and seventh grade students at the Hope Academy of Bishkek are English speaking. Hope Academy was founded in 1998 as an international, co-ed education center that seeks to provide a quality education primarily for the children of expatriate volunteers in the Central Asian country that was formerly part of the Soviet Union. The academy has now grown to more than 120 students from 12 nations, studying from kindergarten to 11th grade.

"Wow! That was awesome!" wrote Cummings in an e-mail after the mission. "The kids can't wait to do another one. They've been happy and braggin' all day!"

In Operation Montserrat the students have to decide how to save the residents of the small Caribbean island of Montserrat as a volcano erupts and a hurricane approaches in this simulated emergency. The mission takes two hours to complete, and Lead Flight Director Lori Kudlak guided the students from the Wheeling location.

"The students were awesome!" Kudlak said. "I don't think I've ever flown a mission with this much energy from the students. They were focused, on task, and well prepared. This was a very successful mission!"

Students at Karachi High School in the capital of Pakistan will take part in the Moon, Mars, and Beyond e-Mission tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. As with the Kyrgyzstan mission, the Pakistan mission is the first time the Challenger Learning Center will fly a mission in this country. Kathleen Frank, Challenger Learning Center assistant director—e-Missions, said a Pakistan mission was scheduled last year, but technical difficulties prevented it. Frank was able to work with teachers at the school, a private, co-ed facility serving about 650 students, to secure this year's mission.

In Moon, Mars, and Beyond, students help locate and rescue a lost spaceship orbiting one of the outer planets.

The Challenger Learning Center has expanded its reach internationally in recent years. Last year, the center flew a mission with students in Rome and is scheduled to run that mission again in June. For the last two years there have been missions for Korean educators, complete with Korean translators at the Wheeling facility. Challenger staff also have demonstrated e-Missions for educators in Northern Ireland.

The Challenger Learning Center is one of 47 centers worldwide established by the Challenger Center for Space Science in memory of the space shuttle Challenger. More than 40,000 students fly missions each year either at the Wheeling facility or through distance learning. The Challenger Learning Center has been honored nine years for having served the most children of all the centers. In 2008 the e-Missions program made more than 1,000 video connections to classrooms around the world.