Karen Iuzzolino-Paquin, who teaches science at St. John’s Catholic School, will join four other teachers for a microgravity flight.
Karen Iuzzolino-Paquin, a middle-school science teacher at St. John’s Catholic School in Brunswick, has been selected as one of five teachers nationwide to participate in the Teachers in Space Human Flight Program. Credit: Courtesy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

A middle-school teacher from Brunswick has been chosen as one of five educators nationwide who will participate in a national program that aims to send teachers to space.

Karen Iuzzolino-Paquin, who teaches science at St. John’s Catholic School, will join four other teachers on Thursday to go on a microgravity flight hosted by Zero Gravity Corp., a Florida company, via the Teachers in Space program.

The other teachers selected for the Human Flight Program are from New York, Texas and New Jersey. The program’s purpose is to prepare teachers so they can participate in actual spaceflight activities.

The teachers will collect data on their heart rates, ECG, blood oxygen levels and other vital signs, and compare the performance of miniature classroom experiments in multiple gravity simulations to prepare them for future classroom experiments with students.

“Adding human flight to our program is one more phenomenal first for Teachers in Space this year,” said Elizabeth Kennick, the president of Teachers in Space.

“We’ve been helping teachers build and fly high altitude and space experiments since 2012. Now we’re putting teachers on those flights with their classroom experiments with Zero-G. Helping teachers understand and experience real space activities now is the key to student engagement and success in the space industry.”

Teachers in Space held a workshop for Maine educators last summer in Brunswick.

The organization aims to fulfill the promise of NASA’s original Teacher in Space program, which the agency abandoned after the fateful 1986 Challenger mission with New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe aboard.

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Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.