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Christa’s Lost Lessons

Bring Christa McAuliffe's planned science lessons to life.

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Grade Level k-8

Physical Science

Stay In My Classroom

Replicate the lessons Christa wasn't able to share from orbit.

Challenger Center, in partnership with NASA and Stem on Station, completed several of the lessons Christa McAuliffe had planned for the Challenger STS-51L Teacher in Space mission. Working with astronauts Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba, the demonstrations were filmed aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and corresponding lessons were developed.

While several lessons were completed as originally planned by Christa, a few were reimagined based on materials available aboard the ISS.

Using these activities in your classroom, you can replicate what Christa was not able to share from orbit. All experiments include a materials list, set-up guidelines, and step-by-step instructions.

Lessons with an asterisk * use common household items.

  • Approximate program time: 1 hour

  • Pre- and post-lesson activities available

  • Closed captioning available

  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned

  • Common Core State Standards (CCSS) aligned

  • Internet connection required

  • Device with audio/video capability required

The History of Christa’s Lost Lessons

The Challenger crew’s mission was to bring Christa McAuliffe’s science lessons to life from space for children around the world. The live activities, known as the six lost lessons, and demonstrations were to be filmed and used as a part of several educational packages distributed after the mission. Additionally, two live lessons were to be televised on PBS on the sixth day of the mission. Due to the Challenger tragedy, the lessons were never performed.

Later in the 1980s, a NASA educational specialist, Bob Mayfield, wrote a narrative description of the six lost lessons. His narrative focused on the science and engineering performed in the conception and planning of the lessons, and related Earth-based exercises. Mr. Mayfield’s narratives were used in the development of Christa’s Lost Lessons.

In Partnership

Christa’s Lost Lessons were developed in partnership with NASA and Stem on Station. Demonstrations were filmed aboard the International Space Station in partnership with astronauts Ricky Arnold and Joe Acaba.