Lynn Bondurant began his career at the NASA Lewis Research Center in 1981 to direct the newly established Office of Educational Programs. His creative leadership and passion for science education laid the foundation for our continuing excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) outreach and inspired a whole generation of youth to pursue careers in science. He was a tireless educator who wrote numerous articles and books on STEM education topics, presented over 70 NASA television programs, and brought a clear vision of a successful STEM outreach program to the Center.
Bondurant earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology from Park College in Missouri, a Master of Arts degree in zoology from Indiana University and a doctorate in curriculum and secondary education from Michigan State University. Before coming to the center he held a number of positions that helped him bring a unique perspective and broad experience in STEM education. He had been a curriculum coordinator, planetarium director, high school biology teacher, education officer at the Smithsonian Institution and a junior high school principal.
In February 1981 Dr. Bondurant became the new chief of the Office of Educational Programs. Until that point, the center’s educational outreach was spread out across varying organizations and lacked focus. Under his leadership, the educational department was revitalized and creative programming was developed that paved the way for the robust outreach programs that we have today.
In his role he was responsible for the visitor’s center, speaker’s bureau, Educator Resource Center and student internship programs, but his enthusiasm and dedication to the outreach mission went well beyond simply managing the program. He personally presented talks, designed and led workshops for students and educators, and developed innovative programs and learning experiences.
One of these was the “Sky as Your Classroom” workshop—which included a simulated “shuttle mission” that immersed two classrooms of students in months of mission planning and then an actual 4-hour, 60-mile journey in a bus outfitted like a shuttle, where the students executed their mission plan.
Dr. Bondurant also collaborated with WVIZ to create and host a television program called, “Touching Tomorrow.” This was a four-part series with the aim to spark student interest in math and science. It was unique in its interactive format where teachers could call in with questions. He said of the show, “A fascination with space today may lead to a career or life-long interest in math or science tomorrow.”
What we know today as the “Journey To Tomorrow” traveling exhibits trailer began as his brainchild—the Mobile Aeronautics Education Laboratory (MAEL). The trailer was completed in 1996 in partnership with Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) to support aero education programs for high school students enrolled in the Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy (SEMMA) sponsored by the center and Tri-C.
Dr. Bondurant met constantly with local officials and educational partners on how the center could best serve the area’s and region’s students. In addition, he was a strong ally of special needs students in STEM. He was a key player in advocating for the first group of special needs students to attend Space Camp (a story that was turned into a made-for-TV movie on the Hallmark Channel in 2012). He was also behind the first captioning of a NASA film for the hearing impaired and the translation of several NASA publications into braille.
He has been awarded numerous times for his many contributions to leadership and creativity in educational outreach. In 1984 he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal—for outstanding initiative and service that have made the center a recognized leader in creative, dynamic cooperation with the educational community and produced a strong positive impact on science education in primary and secondary schools. Then in 1995, he was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for exceptional leadership in creating educational programs that had significantly impacted the educational community while enhancing the visibility and prestige of the center.
After over 20 years of government service, Dr. Bondurant retired in December 1999. In retirement he continued to be involved in many educational initiatives, including serving as the director of education for the X Prize Foundation.
- Articles Written by Bondurant (1990)
- Bondurant Biographical Data (c1985)
- Lynn Bondurant articles (1981-2003)
- Stars and Asteroids Forever article (1992)