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Want To Make Space Pesto?

Only one NEA member will be aboard the Endeavour when it blasts off this summer, but NASA definitely wants you involved in the mission! This fall, the agency will roll out activities for educators eager to offer students a firsthand look at aeronautics work.

“It’s all about learning and exploring, and we want them to come with us,” Educator-Astronaut Barbara Morgan says. Although her primary role in space is as an astronaut, the former Idaho elementary school teacher is capitalizing on the mission to stress to students the importance of considering a career in space (be it travel or ground support.) “That’s what this work is all about,” she says. “You see the math, the science, communications—every curriculum area is involved.”

The centerpiece of NASA’s education push this fall is the Engineering Design Challenge. This summer, Endeavour will tote 75 pounds of basil seeds (that’s 6 million seeds for those keeping track) into orbit. This fall, students can design a plant growing system capable of being delivered to or built on the surface of the moon. NASA will make the basil seeds available to 100,000 educators on a first-come, first-served basis, so students can test their designs. They’ll offer grade-appropriate lesson guides, assessment tools, background materials, and tips for your budding researchers and engineers.

Soon, educators can begin registering for NASA's Plant Growth Chamber Engineering Design Challenge. Lesson plans and materials will be available online for teachers to download for use in the Challenge. Learn more today by signing up for the NASA Education Express mailing list to receive announcements and updates related to the STS-118 mission and related educational activities. Access the list at

There are plenty of goodies online already, though. Visit the of educators’ section. It’s got space travel news, activities, and multimedia resources, broken down by age range.

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She's Gonna Need a Sub
NEA member Barbara Morgan spent years teaching students to reach for the stars. This summer, she’ll orbit them.