Trailblazing STEM Educator Award

AIAA and Challenger Center have launched the Trailblazing STEM Educator Award. The award will celebrate five K-12 educators who go above and beyond to inspire the next generation of explorers and innovators in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Access Nomination Form

Winners of this award will receive:

  • $5,000 award to the educator
  • $5,000 award to the educator’s school or organization
  • A trip to Washington, DC, to be honored at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala
  • Free access to Challenger Center’s STEM education programs

Nomination Requirements:

  • Nominee must be a K-12 educator who brings real-world STEM experiences to students
  • Past recipients are ineligible for future consideration
  • All recipients must be or become an AIAA Educator Associate member
  • Preference will be given to teachers who demonstrate active use of AIAA and Challenger Center resources in their classroom
  • Self-nominations are not permitted
  • Nominator is not required to be a current AIAA member
  • Nominator may not serve as a reference
  • References are not required to be current AIAA members
  • One of two letters of endorsement must be provided by the principal of the nominee’s school or the educator's supervisor
  • Nominations must be submitted using the online database

Nomination materials must include:



Must include:

  • The nominee’s teaching experience
  • Professional activities
  • Formal and continuing education
  • Awards and publications (if any)
  • A brief summary of personal teaching philosophy


Describe in detail how the educator:

  • Connects classroom lessons to our country's current and future ambitions for space exploration and aerospace innovation.
  • Introduces young students to STEM careers that could be relevant to future space exploration or aerospace innovation.
  • Sparks students' imaginations about what will or could be the future - where humans are living and working in space.
  • Engages students and gets them excited about our country's future even during the difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Where applicable, all nominations should also describe how the educator:  

  • Promotes active learning and successfully encourages students to think imaginatively, critically, and independently. 
  • Demonstrates instructional techniques that are appropriate for and effective with a variety of different learning styles. 
  • Interacts enthusiastically and effectively with students beyond the classroom, using all opportunities productively to promote learning and address individual student needs. 
  • Motivates and impacts students, colleagues, and the community with their engaging and inspiring presence.
  • Achieves exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession.
  • Demonstrates active use of AIAA and/or Challenger Center resources within the classroom. 


  • Two signed letters of endorsement
    • For classroom educators: one letter of endorsement must be provided by the Principal of the nominee’s school or;
    • For educators outside of the classroom setting: one letter of endorsement must be provided by the educators’ supervisor
    • The second letter of endorsement can be substituted with a video created by the nominator, capturing student perspectives on why the teacher should be selected.

Winners will be announced in February 2022 and will be honored at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala in Washington, DC.

Dates to Remember

Nomination Period Opens:  18 October 2021 at 0000 hrs ET
Nomination Period Closes: 30 January 2022 at 1159 hrs ET

Access Nomination Form


Contact Sha’Niece Simmons, AIAA Education Program Manager, at Sha’