NASA Launches New Education Initiatives, Contests with Disney’s Buzz Lightyear

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 — NASA and Disney Parks, which collaborated to carry toy space ranger Buzz Lightyear into orbit, are launching new efforts to encourage students to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The 12-inch-tall action figure spent more than 15 months aboard the International Space Station and returned to Earth on Sept. 11. On Friday, Oct. 2, a ticker-tape parade at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., will officially welcome Lightyear home.

“Buzz’s historic spaceflight is a great example of spreading the excitement of space exploration with students around the world,” said Joyce Winterton, NASA’s assistant administrator for Education at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We hope our space station crews and Buzz will continue to spark student interest in the space station and its scientific potential.”

NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, the station commander from October 2008 to April 2009, is spending the day at the Magic Kingdom to tell students about two new educational design challenges and a new online game.

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