The Challenger Experience

“The mission of Challenger Center is to spark in our young people an interest – and a joy – in science.”
– President George H.W. Bush

 

Program Background

There are over 45 Challenger Learning Centers in the US, UK, Canada, and Korea. They can be found in schools, universities, science centers, museums, and as standalone organizations.

Each year, almost 400,000 students and teachers experience the hands-on challenges and excitement of a Learning Center program. They focus on grades 4-9 with supplemental programs available for grades K-3 and 10-12 and beyond.

Challenger Learning Centers are staffed by master teachers that educate using computerized simulators with a Mission Control Room and an orbiting Space Station. Each simulation was produced with guidance from NASA experts.

 

Pre-Visit Activities

Teachers attend a one-day in-service training workshop to receive extensive preparatory materials to use in their classrooms.

For up to six weeks prior to flying their mission, students work on curriculum materials to help understand the thematic topic of their simulation.

 

Mission Scenarios

  • Encounter Earth
  • Rendezvous with a Comet
  • Return to the Moon
  • Voyage to Mars

Mission content is structure to support the National Science Education Standards, as well as national standards in mathematics, geography, technology and language arts. This educational model emphasizes cooperative learning, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Each student is assigned to a team with half of the students working at Mission Control, and the others transported to the Space Station:

  • Medical
  • Life Support
  • Isolation
  • Remote
  • Probe
  • Navigation
  • Communications
  • Data

Post-Visit Activities

Specific programs are designed to extend the Learning Center experience after students have returned to their home school classrooms. These programs analyze and reflect on the data gathered during their mission.

Students participate in post-flight briefings and news conferences, and use these experiences as tools that can help them succeed in their everyday life.

 

Possibilities are Endless

A Learning Center often becomes the catalyst for a community-wide commitment to learning with programs for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H Clubs, corporations, and church organizations.

These centers provide a focus for Professional Development among teachers, community outreach programs, including Family Science Nights, telescope classes and guest speakers. And much more.

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