Challenger Center and AIAA Open Nominations for 2023 Trailblazing STEM Educator Award Written 5 October 2022


Three winners will be honored for enthusiasm and dedication to STEM education

Challenger-Center-AIAA-logosWashington and Reston, Va. – October 5, 2022 – Challenger Center and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced they are accepting nominations for the 2023 Trailblazing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Educator Award. The annual award celebrates K-12 teachers going above and beyond to inspire the next generation of explorers and innovators. Nominations can be submitted to through December 15, 2022.

Three winners will be selected from the nominations. Each winner and their respective school or organization will be awarded $5,000 each, and receive free access to Challenger Center’s STEM education programs, along with a trip to Washington, DC, to be honored at the 2023 AIAA Awards Gala, as well as a special presentation ceremony at their school. The winners also will have the opportunity to  attend a space launch experience.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s STEM explorers and innovators. But first, we must ignite and foster their interest. Teachers are the catalyst for nurturing that potential,” said Lance Bush, president and CEO of Challenger Center. “We’re thrilled to partner with AIAA to recognize our country’s most inspiring STEM education trailblazers—teachers who are going above and beyond to bring STEM experiences to life for their students and get them excited for the world of possibilities that STEM careers offer.”

“Educators are invaluable to our communities. We share a commitment with Challenger Center to support trailblazing educators because they are the link and clear force multiplier to inspiring our future workforce,” said Dan Dumbacher, executive director, AIAA. “We need a diverse and robust STEM next generation who use what they learn today to innovate and invent tomorrow. We can’t wait to recognize passionate and inspirational educators who spark students’ interest in STEM subjects, especially the science and engineering behind aerospace.”

The award was launched in 2021 and first presented in 2022 to recognize teachers who connect classroom lessons to the country’s current and future plans of STEM exploration and innovation, introduce students to STEM careers, and activate students’ imagination about space exploration.

The U.S. aerospace and defense industry leads the world in innovation, while still facing challenges of staffing a properly skilled and qualified workforce. Crucial gaps in diversity, equity, and inclusion must be addressed – more STEM-literate graduates are needed, greater participation is needed by women and ethnic minorities, and early retirements are creating a growing knowledge gap.

About Challenger Center
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center provides more than 250,000 students annually with experiential education programs that engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs, delivered in Challenger Learning Centers and classrooms, strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created by the Challenger families to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. For more information about Challenger Center, please visit or connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. 

About AIAA Foundation
The AIAA Foundation inspires and supports the next generation of aerospace professionals. From classroom to career, the AIAA Foundation enables innovative K-12 and university programming, including STEM classroom grants, scholarships, conferences, and hands-on competitions. Founded in 1996, the AIAA Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt educational organization connected to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

About AIAA
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit or follow AIAA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, andInstagram.


Challenger Center
Sara Espinosa

Rebecca Gray