Earth Background

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, has developed six unique challenges in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Each STEM challenge is based upon real mission data and experiences that occur during human and robotic exploration of the solar system.

The challenges are designed for grades 5-8, and connect students in 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLCs) with NASA scientists and engineers to discuss proposed solutions in real time. Each STEM challenge comes with an educator guide, introductory videos, and resources to help educators conduct the challenges and engage students.

Participating sites create and submit brief videos showcasing their responses to the challenges. U.S. Department of Education leaders and NASA scientists and engineers then select student videos to highlight in a culminating live Web event.

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


Students design and build a drag device to slow a spacecraft entry onto the Martian surface.

Student teams will design a pressure suit or spacesuit that will protect a high-altitude pilot or an astronaut from the low-pressure environment of a near-vacuum or vacuum environment.

Students will design and build a tabletop model of a plant growth chamber that can be folded, stowed, and shipped on a rocket.

Students design and build a Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) model to safely transport two astronauts to the Moon, Mars and beyond.


Students will collect and analyze GLOBE measurements of clouds and surface temperature to determine how clouds impact Earth’s energy systems.