Challenger Center and AIAA Open Nominations for 2024 Trailblazing STEM Educator Award Written 4 October 2023


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

Trailblazing-STEM-Ed-Award-LogoWashington and Reston, Va. (October 4, 2023) –  Challenger Center and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) announced they are accepting nominations for the 2024 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, 2023.

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 2024 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.

“To build a strong workforce of tomorrow, we must first ignite and foster an interest in STEM in young students today. Teachers are key to cultivating their potential,” said Lance Bush, president and CEO of Challenger Center. “We are excited to partner with AIAA to recognize our country’s most remarkable STEM educators who are creating dynamic learning experiences and are dedicated to making STEM education come alive for their students.”

“Educators are invaluable to our communities. We share a commitment with Challenger Center to support trailblazing educators because they are the 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 recognizes 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 hundreds of thousands of 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 Instagram, FacebookTwitter, 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 TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, andInstagram.

Challenger Center
Sara Espinosa
Rebecca Gray