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
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
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
- 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";
- The hydrosphere- the water cycle, evaporation, condensation.
- The atmosphere- its properties and composition; global
- The biosphere- how living organisms play a role in the
earth system, including affecting the atmosphere, erosion
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,