Framingham State alumna Christa (Corrigan) McAuliffe ‘70 demonstrated that ordinary people can be extraordinary and famously challenged the country’s students to “reach for the stars.” To honor McAuliffe and the 25th anniversary of the Challenger Explosion, officials at Framingham State chose to spotlight the work of some extraordinary 8th grade students from the Christa McAuliffe Charter School with a science fair on January 27.
“Christa would have loved this event,” said Mary Liscombe, director of the Christa McAuliffe Learning Center at Framingham State. “These students have worked diligently the past few months to prepare these projects.”
More than 200 parents, students, and members of the University community packed into the McCarthy Center Forum to see the work on display by 8th grade teacher Dan Anderson’s students.
Framingham State President Timothy Flanagan told the audience the need for world class math and science teachers is as great as ever. He said Framingham State University stands ready to meet that need.
“Teacher education remains the longest standing and most renowned part of our mission,” Flanagan said. “We intend to redouble our efforts to produce the best math and science teachers in the nation.”
Students at the fair prepared projects on a wide range of space topics, including artificial gravity, super nova and gamma ray bursts and surviving in space.
All the students interviewed experts as part of their project research. This included current and former astronauts and engineers who worked on creating space rovers.
“We both love engineering, so we really got the perfect topic,” said Ben Cohen, who worked with Peter Everson on a project titled “The Engineering of the Space Rovers and Landers.”
Students basked in the spotlight as members of several media outlets went around the room interviewing them about their projects as part of the coverage of the anniversary.
Tatiana Torres of Framingham interviewed former astronaut Scott Parazynski for her project related to the toll being in space takes on the human body.
“He has gone on seven spacewalks, so it was really neat to be able to talk to him about that,” Torres said. “We learned that when you’re up in space you lose some of your body mass and your blood volume drops.”
The Space shuttle Challenger launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 28, 1986 and exploded 73 seconds after liftoff when a leak in one of two solid rocket boosters ignited the main liquid fuel tank.
Seven crewmembers died that morning including teacher Christa McAuliffe ’70, and astronauts Francis Scobee, Mike Smith, Ron McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Reznik and Greg Jarvis.
More than 1,200 middle school students make their way to Framingham State each year to visit the Christa McAuliffe Challenger Center and go on a simulated space mission.