Flight Night Space Week Brings Astronaut to Area Schools

Goal is to encourage student interest in science, technology, engineering and math, inspire students to pursue careers in those fields

Former NASA astronaut and shuttle pilot Paul Lockhart will share his enthusiasm about careers in space exploration with area elementary school students as part of Flight Night Space Week, May 9 - 14.

Lockhart is set to relate why studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is the first step toward many exciting space-focused careers. Flight Night Space Week will reinforce the concepts Lockhart presents by also engaging students in related STEM classroom activities and an essay contest and by offering a day dedicated to professional development opportunities for teachers.

"Many years ago the bright stars above the broad plains of Texas and Oklahoma sent me on my path to becoming an astronaut," Lockhart said. "I am now excited about meeting with young space explorers in and around Tulsa and learning about the many paths they will take in their exciting futures. I hope to meet the first American to walk on Mars during my visit to Tulsa!"

In addition to his time at area elementary schools, Lockhart will join a panel discussion during a free public presentation and planetarium show.

"This special week-long focus on space exploration encourages student enthusiasm for STEM careers," Flight Night co-chairman Bailey J. Siegfried said. "To reach space, you first have to get off the ground. In terms of pursing STEM studies, our kids can’t ‘get off the ground’ unless they are aware of what’s possible, believe they can succeed and are inspired to try."

To provide that awareness, self-confidence and inspiration, Flight Night -- the local fundraising gala focused on STEM education to enhance student success and teacher excellence – and co-sponsor Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance arranged to bring the Space Foundation’s ‘Space in the Community’ program to Tulsa area schools. It is one of numerous educational programs supported by Flight Night and projected to reach some 70,000 students in northeastern Oklahoma with potentially life-changing STEM education content.

Flight Night Space Week events include:

Free Public Presentation and "Passport to the Universe" Planetarium Show

While the elementary school presentations are not open to the general public, all members of the community are welcome to attend a free planetarium show entitled "Passport to the Universe" and panel discussion , Thurs., May 12 from 7 to 8 p.m. at Jenks Planetarium, 205 E. 8th Street.

Developed by the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the NASA, the planetarium show "traverses billions of light years, taking an incredible journey from our home planet and the Milky Way galaxy to the edge of the universe. Audiences fly beneath the rings of Saturn, into the heart of the Orion Nebula, and out into the vastness of the observable universe, experiencing stunning cosmic destinations as never before possible."

The panel discussion will focus on the future of space exploration, the importance of a space program, how the space program has improved life on earth through technological advancement and inspiring the next generation of explorers.

Panelists include:

  • Bryan DeBates, M.Ed., senior director, education, Space Foundation – moderator;

  • Paul Lockhart, former NASA astronaut and shuttle pilot and current chief of research for Pemdas Technologies and Innovations;

  • Lane Matheson, former engineering subcontractor to NASA on the International Space Station project and current teacher of engineering robotics, AP calculus and AP physics at Tulsa’s Memorial High School;

  • Donna Shirley, former director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Due to limited seating for the public event, registration is required in advance in the” Planetarium” section of JenksCommunityEd.com. For additional ticket information, call (918) 298-0340.
To help support future events like Space Week, make plans to attend the Flight Night 2016 gala, set for Thurs., Sept. 15 at Jones Riverside Airport in Tulsa. For event information, visit tulsaflightnight.org, facebook.com/tulsaflightnight, or follow the nonprofit on Twitter at @flightnightUSA.



"STEM education is vital to our state’s future. Employers are looking for people with specific skills in those disciplines, but there are not enough of them available. Oklahoma has a strong aerospace industry that requires a large number of employees with science, technology, engineering and math skills. This industry is growing, with jobs that pay almost twice the average job in our state."

– Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin

"Space plays an important and expanding role in our daily lives from the way we communicate, navigate, predict weather, conduct banking, and provide disaster relief, and ensure security. I introduced the American Space Renaissance Act to ensure America remains the preeminent spacefaring nation. I'm proud of Flight Night's commitment to inspire Oklahoma students as tomorrow’s space pioneers."                                                             

 – Oklahoma First District Rep. Jim Bridenstine

"My mission as your mayor has been clear that our aerospace/aviation industry in Tulsa is one of our strongest assets. My efforts to create an Aerospace Academy with TPS and TTC is now a reality. The fact that the Siegfried family continues its Flight Night program is the best possible first step for younger children to engage in this amazing field of interest. Space Week will certainly accelerate interest from our young people. Thank you, Flight Night."                                               

– Mayor of Tulsa Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr.

"The Tulsa region has a rich aviation and aerospace history. Programs such as Flight Night Space Week can inspire today’s students and help ensure that our local legacy of flight will continue for generations to come."                                                      

– Tulsa Regional Chamber President and CEO Mike Neal


The Tulsa Flight Night event is operated by Tulsa Charity Fight Night, Inc. a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation supporting STEM education programs and projects that inspire curiosity and learning in tomorrow’s leaders. The charity and the original black tie boxing event were founded by the late Ray H. Siegfried II. In this same spirit of giving, the annual Flight Night event took to the air with a focus on Ray’s aerospace legacy. For more information about Flight Night and the programs it supports, visit TulsaFlightNight.org.


TRSA is an intermediary organization that is flexible and inclusive enough to welcome all community members yet includes sufficient structure and organizational support to facilitate and coordinate the work that needs to be done. The goals of TRSA are as follows: Calculate: Create common performance metrics for members that measure the efficacy of TRSA STEM programs and events; Communicate: Increase awareness and access to STEM resources and activities through a centralized information sharing network to inform TRSA stakeholders and STEM advocates in the Tulsa region; Collaborate: Use shared resources of all kinds to broaden the impact of TRSA’s dynamic "mesh network" of STEM community members; and Cultivate: Grow the STEM ecosystem in northeastern Oklahoma through robust support and initiation of STEM education events and activities while securing resources necessary for TRSA’s initiatives: Funding, Programming, Professional Development, Tulsa Resource Area for STEM Educators (TRASE) and Mentorship.


The Space Foundation's Space in the Community program was created to support a community approach to inspiring students' interest in STEM education, and to help all members of a community discover how interest in space can bring the community together. Space in the Community incorporates the Space Foundation's Audience with an Astronaut™ education program, featuring former NASA astronauts giving presentations that explain how science, technology, engineering and math are applied in space. The program also includes classroom, hands-on activities for students, as well as community events. Learn more about Space in the Community, and other Space Foundation STEM education programs, by visiting www.spacefoundation.org/education.


Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium, in support of its mission "to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity." Space Foundation World Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere® and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. The Space Foundation has a field office in Houston and conducts government affairs from its Washington, D.C., office. It publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space CertificationTM and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, the Space Foundation recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit www.SpaceFoundation.org, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and YouTube, and read our e-newsletter Space Watch.