The space station has a unique ability to capture the imaginations of both students and teachers worldwide. The presence of humans onboard the station provides a foundation for numerous educational activities aimed at capturing that interest and motivating the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
Projects such as the Amateur Radio on International Space Station, or ARISS; Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students, or EarthKAM; and Take your Classroom into Space, among others, have allowed for global student, teacher and public access to space through student image acquisition and radio contacts with crew members. Educational activities are not limited to STEM, but encompass all aspects of the human condition. This is well illustrated in the Uchu Renshi project, a chain poem initiated by an astronaut while in space and continued and completed by people on Earth. With space station operations continuing until at least 2020, projects like these and their accompanying educational materials will be made available to more students around the world. Through the continued use of the station, we will challenge and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, writers, artists, politicians and explorers.