About Us

CACLC-CountiesThe Central Allegheny Challenger Learning Center “CACLC” will be located in White Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania situate to the Indiana County Technology Center.  The CACLC is a newly organized Pennsylvania non profit organization licensed, by the national Challenger Foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, to serve twenty two counties in western and central Pennsylvania – from east Pittsburgh, to Altoona, to Somerset and north to Elk County, Pennsylvania.

There are 48 Challenger Learning Centers world-wide, and this will be the first one in Pennsylvania. Challenger, a NASA affiliated foundation, was established in 1986 to honor those astronauts who died aboard the tragically aborted space mission in January of that same year.

The central mission of all Challenger Learning Centers is to provide hands on learning experiences in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for students and adult learners of all ages, with a particular emphasis on middle school students, in order to interest them in pursuing careers which require increasingly advanced technology skills and advanced level studies in the STEM subjects.

All Challenger Centers are equipped with a NASA simulator and physical space that is designed to look like the mission control room in Houston, a flight transport room such as the one used to fly astronauts to the space shuttle, and the space shuttle rooms which look much like the actual space shuttle, two large class rooms, and a briefing room.

At the Center, students “fly” NASA designed missions (to, for example, the moon or Mars) in which they are required to use the math and science skills they have been learning for the prior six weeks in their home district class rooms.

During the mission, they are expected to solve problems and conduct experiments aboard the aircraft and in mission control. The total experience is meant to be “hands on”, challenging, and fun and is designed to interest students to take higher level technology, math, and science classes when they enter high school.

The entire Challenger mission experience is reasonably priced. The cost per student is about $25 which includes one day of teacher instruction in Challenger curriculum, six weeks of class room studies based on that curriculum, and a trip to the Challenger Center to fly a mission.  Each mission can fly about 25 to 30 students at one time.  Each Challenger region is designed to accommodate students within a two hour driving distance of the Center.

In addition to regular school days, we intend for our Center to operate on evenings and weekends and to serve diverse learners, such as, adult learners who wish to use custom designed simulations for first responders, or for corporations who want to do team building missions, for high school science and math clubs, for summer camp learners, for eMissions and eLabs designed to promote distance learning, or introductory “micronaut” missions for K-3 students.

The annual budgets of most Challenger Centers is between $350,000 to $600,000 per year.  Because we project it will take us about two to three years to promote our Center and build a solid customer base, we hope to raise at least one or two year’s annual budget before construction starts.  This is included in the amount we are seeking to raise to build our Challenger Center.