National Medal of Honor Heritage Center Awards $17,000 to Students Competing in Inaugural Space Design Challenge

Maranda Wilkinson

May 22, 2024


Normal Park Museum Magnet Elementary School

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (May 20, 2024) – The Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center is thrilled to announce the winning student teams in the inaugural Space Medal of Honor Design Challenge. This design competition invited K-12 student teams from across the nation to take on the role of a Museum Exhibit Designer and create an exhibit for the Heritage Center’s forthcoming Space Medal of Honor Gallery. Over 100 student teams entered the challenge. Fourteen teams were chosen for the final judging on May 18th that took place at the Heritage Center. Four winning teams were selected. 

“It’s exciting to see our educational programs and opportunities expanding beyond Medal of Honor Recipients to include Space Medal of Honor Recipients thanks to passionate and generous supporters like Dr. June Scobee Rodgers,” said Maranda Wilkinson, director of education at the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. “Dr. Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Richard “Dick” Scobee, has turned tragedies into triumphs on a number of occasions–paving the way for students around the world to explore STEM learning at Challenger Centers and now here at the Heritage Center through this design challenge centered on Space Medal of Honor Recipients.”   

Along with Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, representatives from NASA, Lockheed Martin, and Nissan North America served as judges during the final round. They included Pam Melroy, NASA’s Deputy Administrator and one of only two women to command a space shuttle, and Tonya Ladwig, Vice President, Human Space Exploration & Orion Program Manager at Lockheed Martin Space. Others serving were Will Bryan, NASA SLS Communications Strategist, and Thomas Mooney, Regional Training Center Manager at Nissan North America. 

Wilkinson continued, “Narrowing the field of over 100 student teams from across the country during the rounds leading up to the four winners was challenging for our judges. Several noted how much they enjoyed watching the exhibit designs morph over time as student teams revisited the design engineering process to enhance their products. During the final round, our judges deliberated for quite some time following the in-person presentations. The energy in the room while waiting for the announcements was electrifying.”   

Four student teams were selected as winners, and their schools were awarded monetary prizes ranging from $1,000 to $10,000: 

  • Thrasher Elementary School, Hamilton County Schools, TN | $1,000 | Student Team Members: Leah Price, Finn Rossillon, and Sawyer Kennedy
  • Normal Park Museum Magnet Elementary School, Hamilton County Schools, TN | $1,000 | Student Team Members: Graham Hardin, Everett Morrison, Charlie Royal, and Tuck Royal 
  • North Whidbey Middle School, Oak Harbor Public Schools, WA | $5,000 | Student Team Members: Thorin Allen, Robert Brophy, and Morgan Vice
  • Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts, Hamilton County Schools, TN | $10,000 | Student Team Members: Anna Clark, Brianna Reel, and Nishta Sidella

“With the enthusiastic support of NASA and aerospace officials serving with us as judges, we were delighted to witness truly inspiring talent in the STEM and space sciences Design Challenge,” added Dr. June Scobee Rodgers. “All the entries were winners, and hopefully very soon, the designs will be on display to share with visitors at the Heritage Center.” 

The Heritage Center aims to expand beyond its current exhibits to include the Space Medal of Honor Gallery in the near future. “Here at the Heritage Center, we are honored that the Scobee and Rodgers families have given us an opportunity to tell his story and exhibit his Space Medal of Honor,” said David Currey, executive director of the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center. “Dick Scobee’s story is both aspirational and educational, aligning with our mission to inspire all visitors to the center to be the best versions of themselves through the stories of those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Initial plans for this immersive gallery are underway, and once realized, our Center will offer an unmatched experience for both history and space enthusiasts alike.”

To learn more about the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, its mission, this Design Challenge, plans for the new gallery, or to support this project, please visit or call (423) 877-2525. 

About the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center
Opened in February 2020, the Coolidge National Medal of Honor Heritage Center is situated in the heart of the birthplace of the Medal of Honor—Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 19,500 square-foot facility features life-sized, immersive exhibits that memorialize our nation’s highest military award for valor, honor its national heritage and recipients, and educate future generations of Americans about the six character traits embodied by the Medal of Honor and its recipients: Patriotism, Citizenship, Courage, Integrity, Sacrifice and Commitment. For more information, please visit

Maranda Wilkinson

Maranda Wilkinson is the Director of Education for the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center.