Education programs give students out-of-this-world access to space science

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Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 3:49 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - What do both NASA and the Challenger Learning Center in Hazard have in common? They are both working to teach students more about what life is like off of Earth.

For NASA officials, they are trying to educate students about space through an education series called “Habitat Space.”

John Shoffner, an Axiom Space astronaut and founder of the Perseid Foundation, took part in the series.

The Middlesboro native explained, “We had this notion to film episodes of what it’s like in space, on the space station, in a way that kids can compare it to life on earth.”

Shoffner often says, “Just wait until you get up here and try it for yourself,” throughout the series. Each episodes takes students through the daily life of an astronaut in space.

Shoffner was the 598th person to visit space. He was in an Axiom Space mission earlier this year.

He explained that the series, “Revolves around changing the belief culture in the classroom that they do have a place and a role. Whatever they want, they bring that voice forward, and start learning all they can about that.”

While Shoffner explains what life was like while in space, the Challenger Learning Center in Hazard gives students the opportunity to explore space while still on Earth.

“A normal day at the Challenger Center for us involves a trip to Mars with a group of students that might be establishing a colony on the surface. Maybe we’re tracking a new comet in space or going back to the moon,” said Programming Director Joseph Collins.

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The Challenger Learning Center offers exhibits and activities for students that give them simulated experiences involving space.

Activities include a launch bay, mission control room and more.

“So, if we want to get to that point where we have the next generation of space scientists and explorers, then we need kids to see that at an early age,” said Programming Director Joseph Collins.