Zero Hour Approaches for Teachernaut

By Blake Rodman — January 22, 1986 1 min read

For Sharon Christa McAuliffe, a social-studies teacher from Concord, N.H., the countdown that began six months ago with her selection as NASA’S “teacher in space” is scheduled to end Saturday with a burst of rocket fire launching the space shuttle Challenger.

NASA officials reported last week that the launch date for the long-awaited teacher-in-space flight originally slated for Jan. 23-had been pushed back to the afternoon of Jan. 25.

Because of the two-day delay, the two lessons that Ms. McAuliffe will teach live from space-to be beamed to the nation’s cia rooms via satellite-have been rescheduled for Jan. 30, the official said. (For details, see Education Week, Dec. 11, 1985.)

In conjunction with the launch, two group of educators—the 114 teacher-in-space finalists, now known as ABA’S “space ambassadors,” and an invited group of 300 “distinguished” educators—were scheduled to converge this week on Orlando, Fla., and the Kennedy Space Center for several days of special activities planned by the space agency.

The agenda includes briefings and workshops on the teacher-in-space flight and aspects of NASA’S space program, a tour of the Kennedy Space Center, and a series of receptions hosted by such groups as the American Federation of Teachers, the Young Astronaut Council, and the U.S. Space Camp.

Ms. McAuliffe, however, will not be on hand for the festivities. She and the other astronauts scheduled to make the flight are in quarantine, and will remain so until the launch.

Earlier this month, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the organization that conducted the nationwide search for the teacher-in- pace finalist, called on the nation’s schoolchildren to leave an outside light on during the fifth night of the space flight, the night before Ms. McAuliffe teaches her two lessons from orbit.

The idea of the effort, “lights on for learning,” is to get the nation involved in the flight, said Franklin B. Walter, superintendent of Ohio public schools and president of C.C.S.S.O. Turning on the lights, he said, will “place particular illumination” on teaching and learning.

“We need to highlight the fact that the first private citizen to fly in space ... is a public-school teacher,” said Mr. Walter.

A version of this article appeared in the January 22, 1986 edition of Education Week as Zero Hour Approaches for Teachernaut