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Objectives and Standards for Barbara Morgan: No Limits

The crew of the STS-118 missionThis 50-minute documentary, narrated by actor Sean Astin, can be viewed in its entirety, or you may want to have your students watch it in two parts.

View the entire documentary online, or check with your local librarian. Thanks to the support from our generous sponsors, every junior high school and public library in Idaho received a copy of this video in February 2009.

When using this video in the classroom, a good place to pause for discussion is at 29:30, at the end of Morgan’s launch into space.

If you have another class period, you can either continue the video from that point, or refresh your students’ memory by starting it before the launch at 23:30, and continuing to the end of the video at 48:48. (Credits are at 46:53.)

Objectives of the student video

  • To understand the importance of setting goals
  • To understand that you often have to persevere with your goals through challenges
  • To understand appropriate risk
  • To understand that scientific exploration is a collaborative activity
  • To understand more about space flight
  • To understand the role and importance of teachers

A view of the shuttle on the launch pad at nightGrade Level: 7-12

Subject Areas: Civics, Science, U.S. History

Estimated Time Needed: One 50-minute class period if only the first half of the video is shown; two class periods if the whole video is shown.

When McCall, ID elementary teacher Barbara Morgan heard President Ronald Reagan announce the Teacher-in-Space program on August 27, 1984, she knew immediately that she would apply.

"I shot straight up and said, "Wow!" she said. "Because as teachers, we’re always looking for opportunities to bring the world to our classroom."

In her application, Morgan stressed her method of active teaching, which meant incorporating her own life into her lessons. In order to educate the children about space, she said, she needed to experience it. "I want to get some stardust on me," she wrote.

Out of 11,000 applicants, Barbara Morgan was named the runner-up to New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe, and trained alongside her. But after McAuliffe’s death on the shuttle Challenger in January, 1986, NASA cancelled the Teacher-in-Space program.

The shuttle flipped on its back over the desert"It looked to me personally that Barbara Morgan would never get a chance to fly," said Bill Harwood, a veteran CBS space reporter.

But history would dictate another course. Using rare footage, photos and internal documents, as well as interviews with Morgan, her friends, colleagues, students and family, "No Limits" shows how Barbara became a full-fledged astronaut, and then overcame additional challenges, including the loss of another shuttle crew. On August 8, 2007, Morgan and her six crewmates blasted off in the Shuttle Endeavour, the beginning of a 13-day mission to the International Space Station.

From a 32-year old school teacher to a 55-year old astronaut, Morgan had finally achieved her dream. "Yes, actually I did get some stardust on me. We all got some stardust on us," she said.


These standards are compiled from K-12 benchmarks suggested by McRel (Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning) at

Standard One: Life Skills: Self-regulation
Sets and manages goals, performs self-appraisal, considers risks, demonstrates perseverance, maintains a healthy self-concept, restrains impulsivity.

Standard Two: Life Skills: Working with others
Knows the behaviors and skills that contribute to team effectiveness, works cooperatively within a group to complete tasks, achieve goals, and solve problems, evaluates the overall progress of a group toward a goal.

Standard Three: People in Science: Understands the scientific enterprise
Knows that people of all backgrounds and with diverse interests, talents, qualities, and motivations engage in fields of science and engineering; some of these people work in teams and others work alone, but all communicate extensively with others.

Standard Four: Science: Understands Forces and Motion
Knows the effects of forces (e.g., wind, gravity) in nature, knows that objects in space can be moved in a number of ways.

Standard Five: Science: Earth’s Atmosphere
Knows the composition and structure of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Standard Six: Science: Understands the composition and structure of the universe and the Earth's place in it
Knows that evidence suggests that our universe is expanding.