Earth Background

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, has developed five 6-8th grade and two 3rd – 5th grade unique science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Design Challenges . Each STEM challenge is based upon real mission data and experiences that occur during human and robotic exploration of the solar system.

These content opportunities connect students in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs) with NASA scientists and engineers to discuss proposed challenge solutions. Each challenge includes an STEM facilitation guide, introductory videos, and resources to help educators conduct the opportunity and engage students.

Participating sites create and submit brief videos showcasing their responses to the challenge. U.S. Department of Education leaders and NASA scientists and engineers then select student videos to highlight in a culminating live Web event or to be showcased during state-based culminating experiences.

This interagency initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of Education.


Develop a device to slow down spacecraft landing on Mars.

Develop safety devices for astronauts traveling to the Moon or Mars


Develop protective footwear for the ISS astronauts to wear as they live and work in microgravity.

Build a shoebox glider to produce the greatest glide slope.

Develop a filter to purify water to be used in a future Lunar Habitat.

Develop a plant growth system to help sustain astronauts on a lunar surface.

Develop a drag device to slow a spacecraft for entry, descent, and landing.

Help design NASA’s next generation spacecraft.

Develop a containment system to protect astronauts from the vacuum of space



If your 21st CCLC site is participating in the NASA Projects, please login to access full features including the event calendar and project uploads.

Calendar only available to 21st CCLC Site Main Point of Contact.