Mission: Imagine! Inspire! Explore!
What started out as a tragedy on a frigid Florida morning on Jan. 28, 1986, has turned into a monumental educational triumph. The Challenger Center for Space Science Education, which serves as a living legacy to the seven astronauts lost on the space shuttle Challenger, for more than a quarter century has used science and math to help students build the skills most needed for the 21st century, including decision making, teamwork, problem solving, and communication.
The Challenger Learning Center in Wheeling opened in 1994 and is one of 48 centers worldwide. Since our founding we have reached more than 275,000 students and adult learners. Each year more than 30,000 students fly missions either here on site in Wheeling or via videoconferencing through our e-Missions™ program. Our Challenger Learning Center has been honored nine years at the annual awards conference in three categories: Most Students Served, Most Missions Flown, and Most Teachers Trained.
During a two-hour mission participants serve on one of eight teams in mission control or on the space station. Merging the power of imagination with the excitement of discovery, students become engineers and scientists as they simulate a space mission. The experience provides students along with teachers and adult learners with simulations that emphasize teamwork, problem-solving, decision-making and communication skills.
Challenger’s e-Missions™ are distance learning videoconference simulations in which students connect with a flight director at the center and use their problem solving, math, and science abilities to work their way through a scenario fraught with crises. Each year more than 750 video connections are made to classrooms around the world. In fact, e-Missions have now been delivered to 15 countries in addition to the United States. President George W. Bush even took part in an e-Mission in 2004 while visiting a school in Pennsylvania.
With the new Micronauts program Wheeling is the only Challenger Center whose Micronauts program has its own exhibit hall. This colorful and vibrant exploratorium invites younger children—those in grades K-3—to experience a variety of hands-on activities that will spur their interest in science and math and the joy of learning.