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Press Release

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

The NASA Space Shuttle Returns to Florida

- One-of-a-kind program engages Florida's STEM students -

Tallahassee - In partnership with The Challenger Learning Center, Walt Disney World©, the Florida State University School and Coaxis International, the Florida Department of Education is pleased to sponsor a new and innovative program geared toward Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students. The first-ever State of Florida Student Astronaut Challenge offers high school students the opportunity to compete in teams to demonstrate their knowledge of aerospace science and problem-solving skills.

"This unique program provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the talents of STEM students throughout Florida," said Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson. "Our continued focus on STEM programs will help Florida's students compete for jobs in the 21st century and I applaud our partners for making this special project possible."

High school student teams are invited to submit a proposal for a scientific experiment that could be conducted on the International Space Station in zero-gravity conditions. A panel of experts in the field of science and science education will evaluate the proposals and choose the top eight teams to travel to Tallahassee in May 2012. Each team will be tasked with an engineering challenge using the mobile NASA Space Shuttle Enterprise Flight Simulator. The teams will present and demonstrate their experiment including pre-flight operations, launch, orbit and landing of the space shuttle flight simulator at the Challenger Learning Center.

"The 'Enterprise' Space Shuttle Flight Simulator was constructed as a mobile instructional tool to demonstrate real-world application of science," stated Peter Carafano, Project Coordinator at the Florida State University School. "The development of the simulator operating system was designed to engage students by immersing them in the experience of space shuttle flight."

The deadline to submit experiment proposals is Feb. 10, 2012. For more information about the State of Florida Student Astronaut Challenge, including a downloadable application, visit