Blogs  |  8.17.2021

2021 Annual Conference Recap

Every year, Challenger Center hosts its annual conference with representatives from our Challenger Learning Centers. For the second year in a row, we gathered virtually, allowing even more participants from Centers to join the discussions. Conference is the perfect opportunity for Centers to share ideas and inspiration, to celebrate the great work the teams are doing for students and teachers, and to catch up with dear colleagues and friends.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen how important it is to be adaptable. Thanks to the development of Virtual Missions, the innovative ways our Centers are continuing to connect with teachers and students, and the pure passion our network has for STEM education, collectively we were able to reach 75,000 students with programs during the 2020-21 school year,” said Lance Bush, president & CEO, Challenger Center. “After a trying school year, we’re extremely proud to have impacted those 75,000 students and look forward to continuing to support teachers in any way that we can.”

Throughout the three-day event, network-wide and breakout discussions kept participants engaged. Discussion topics ranged from forward-thinking strategic planning, to new program and software updates, to program marketing, and everything in between.

Three keynote sessions featured external guests including Kellie Gerardi, a bioastronautics researcher with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS), Katie Novak, an education and universal design expert, and Dr. Robert Braun, Director of Planetary Science at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Each presentation was unique, inspiring, and shared a common theme – in order to entice learners to pursue STEM subjects and careers, it’s critical to provide inspiration, meet students where they are and tailor lessons to meet their interests, learning levels, and learning types.

To wrap up the event Challenger Center presented our annual awards. The June Scobee Rodgers Innovative Educator Award was presented to a K-5 STEAM teacher from Colorado Springs, CO, Cathryn Goodman. The Arthur C. Clarke Award for Innovation in Education was presented to the Challenger Learning Center at the Scobee Education Center at San Antonio College.

Even though we were unable to greet and interact with our colleagues in person, seeing dozens of smiling faces on Zoom proved to be productive and inspiring. After a week filled with creative ideas, positive attitudes, and comradery, the future of the Challenger Center network looks brighter than ever.