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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pioneers Ride and McAuliffe, educators linked in space

Young women in space
Some imprints begin early and last forever
Edited by Carolyn Bennett


She was a scientist, a science writer, an educator, a pioneer, a leader, a woman lauded for having a “rare ability to understand the essence of things and to inspire.”

Early in life, science fascinated her. Her parents encouraged her, she told one biographer; in her formative years, chemistry sets and telescopes were her favorite "toys"; and in June 18, 1983, and October 5, 1984, she boarded the Challenger at the Kennedy Space Center and made history. She had been scheduled but did not take the space flight in 1986. Schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe did.


Five years after her historic flight, Sally Ride joined the University of California San Diego faculty as professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute. She coauthored with Tam O’Shaughnessy seven science books for children: To Space and Back (with Sue Oakie); and Voyager; The Third Planet; The Mystery of Mars; Exploring Our Solar System; Mission Planet Earth; and Mission Save the Planet. She created and directed NASA-funded education projects designed to feed middle school students’ fascination with science, including EarthKAM and GRAIL MoonKAM. She formed the company Sally Ride Science, creating innovative classroom materials, classroom programs, and professional development training for teachers to help “motivate young girls and boys to stick with their interests in science and to consider pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

Sally Ride
First U.S. woman in space
Lasting Imprint

Sally Ride has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the California Hall of Fame, the Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. She was recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the von Braun Award, the Lindbergh Eagle, the NASA Space Flight Medal (twice awarded). This year she was honored with the National Space Grant Distinguished Service Award.

She was a science fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University; a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and served on the boards of the Aerospace Corporation and the California Institute of Technology. She was a member of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology, the National Research Council’s Space Studies Board, and the boards of the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Dr. Sally Ride (May 26, 1951-July 23, 2012) was a U.S. physicist, born and raised in Encino, California, and credentialed at Stanford University (BS in physics/BA English, MS in physics, and Ph.D. in physics). Sally Ride served on federal commissions that investigated two space shuttle disasters: the Challenger and the Columbia.

S. Christa Corrigan McAuliffe
Teacher in Space Participant
NASA Teacher in Space

Sharon Christa McAuliffe died on the vessel Sally Ride might have taken that January day in 1986

On January 28, 1986, Christa McAuliffe had been selected and trained in the NASA Teacher in Space Project; and with six other crew members, she boarded the Space Shuttle Challenger that blew up 72 seconds into launch at an altitude of 48,000 feet. McAuliffe was 37 years old.


Christa McAuliffe was a social studies, law, economics, civics and history schoolteacher in the U.S. States of Maryland and New Hampshire. She designed the course “The American Woman.” She had been lauded as a gifted teacher, a role she would have played ably for the schoolchildren of America, indeed the young of the world had that winter day turned out differently.

Christa McAuliffe was born (September 2, 1948) in Boston, Massachusetts, and died serving her profession, her country, and particularly the young, at Cape Canaveral, Florida (January 28, 1986).

Lasting Imprint

Monuments, institutions and events have been established in her honor: The Christa McAuliffe Planetarium/McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire, the Christa Corrigan Hennessy Center for Education and Teaching Excellence at Framingham State College, and the Christa McAuliffe Residential Community building at Bowie State University.

United States astronauts
 Mae Jemison 1st African-American woman (L.) 

Pamela Melroy (R.)
The asteroid 3352 McAuliffe, the crater McAuliffe on the Moon, and a crater on the planet Venus bear her name. Scholarships and numerous events have been established in her memory. Scores of schools and other establishments around the world have taken her name: the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove, Utah; the nurses’ cabin at Camp Wabasso in New Hampshire; the McAuliffe Exhibit in the Henry Whittemore Library at Framingham State University; the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference, devoted to the use of technology in all aspects of education, has been held in Nashua, New Hampshire, every year since 1986.

The 2006 documentary “Christa McAuliffe: Reach for the Stars,” produced by Renee Sotile and Mary Jo Godges, remembered McAuliffe’s life.

Christa McAuliffe took her academic credentials Framingham State College (BS, education and history) Bowie State University (MA, education supervision and administration). In 1985, she was selected from more than 11,000 applicants for participation in NASA’s Teacher in Space Project.

Sources and notes


Bennett's books are available in New York State independent bookstores: Lift Bridge Bookshop: www.liftbridgebooks.com [Brockport, NY]; Sundance Books: http://www.sundancebooks.com/main.html [Geneseo, NY]; Mood Makers Books: www.moodmakersbooks.com [City of Rochester, NY]; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center: www.enlightenthedog.org/ [Buffalo, NY]; Burlingham Books – ‘Your Local Chapter’: http://burlinghambooks.com/ [Perry, NY 14530]; The Bookworm: http://www.eabookworm.com/ [East Aurora, NY] • See also: World Pulse: Global Issues through the eyes of Women: http://www.worldpulse.com/ http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire http://www.facebook.com/#!/bennetts2ndstudy


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