Overview Lessons & Materials Pre Mission Prep. Mission Day Assessment Student Pages


Mission Briefing

Overview of Teams — VIDEOS

Press Release

Interdisiplinary Approach


Executive Summary

National Standards

State Standards

Challenger Video

Broadband / DSL


Flyer PDF




Executive Summary  

The Challenger e-Mission offers students an exciting, intellectually intense experience during which they participate in a simulated Earth system science-related mission. Each mission helps students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of their individual and collective relationship to the power of science, mathematics, and technology in today's advancing world.

This curriculum uses the Internet and ISDN technologies to deliver a hands-on mission into a target classroom. The goal of this specific distance learning initiative grew from a desire to reach the thousands of West Virginia middle and high school students in economically depressed communities whose schools lack travel resources, time, and staff to participate in on-site Challenger programs. Research has shown that along with providing an exceptional experience for the student, the distance learning medium is a viable tool for providing the teacher with the professional insights required to incorporate into the students' mission experience national science, math, and technology standards, and character building activities.

In particular, the Challenger e-Mission is aligned with the National Research Council's National Science Education Standards (1996). As a result, students in grades 5-8 develop deeper understandings of:

Science as inquiry

  • Use of tools and techniques to analyze and interpret data.
  • Creating descriptions, formulating explanations, and making predictions using evidence.
  • How to think critically and logically to determine relationships between evidence and explanations.
  • Use of mathematics in all aspects of scientific inquiry.
  • How the use of technology to gather data enhances accuracy and allows scientists to analyze and quantify results of investigations.

Science and technology in society

  • That scientists and engineers work in many different settings, including colleges and universities, businesses and industries, specific research institutes, and government agencies.

Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
Natural hazards

  • The internal and external processes of the Earth system which cause natural hazards- events that affect human lives and property and wildlife habitats.
  • How natural hazards present personal and societal challenges.

Risks and benefits

  • How to conduct a systematic risk analysis: identifying the type of hazard, analyzing the risks, and predicting the human consequences.

Earth and Space Science
Structure of the Earth system

  • The lithosphere- the hot, convecting mantle and dense, metallic core; plate motion; how land forms are produced; constructive and destructive forces; the "rock cycle"; soil composition.
  • The hydrosphere- the water cycle, evaporation, condensation.
  • The atmosphere- its properties and composition; global weather patterns.
  • The biosphere- how living organisms play a role in the earth system, including affecting the atmosphere, erosion and weathering.

Life Science
Populations and ecosystems

  • Ecosystems- How populations live together and the physical factors with which they interact.
  • Functions in an ecosystem- production, consumption, decomposition.
  • The role of sunlight in energy production in an ecosystem.
  • Science and Technology.
  • How technology is essential to science, because it provides instruments and techniques that enable observations of objects and phenomena that are otherwise unobservable.
  • That technology provides tools for investigations, inquiry, and analysis.