Blogs | 8.29.2022
Grand Opening of Challenger Learning Center at Montco Pottstown
This past weekend, Montgomery County Community College, in partnership with Challenger Center, officially opened the doors to a new and exciting immersive STEM experience for Pennsylvania residents. Located in Pottstown, Challenger Learning Center at Montco Pottstown is the only Center of its kind in Pennsylvania and one of nearly 40 Challenger Learning Centers globally. Like all of our Challenger Learning Centers, the experience aims to deepen the understanding and appreciation of STEM careers and topics while building critical 21st-century skills. It offers unique learning and team-building opportunities for students, educators, corporations, and community residents.
Lance Bush, Challenger Center President and CEO, and Robert Curbeam, member of Challenger Center’s Board of Directors and former NASA astronaut, joined the celebration.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Challenger Learning Center at Montco Pottstown as the first Challenger Learning Center to open in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Bush. “When we open new Challenger Learning Centers, we look for partners who understand the critical need for STEM education and share our passion for inspiring the next generation of leaders and explorers. We are proud to partner with Montco—a college committed to its community and providing access to incredible education experiences and resources.”
Inside the Challenger Learning Center at Montco Pottstown
Learners of all ages toured the Challenger Learning Center during the two-day launch event. Let’s take a closer look inside . . .
Learners begin their adventure in the Briefing Room, where they are assigned their team roles, receive their pre-mission brief and learn about their Mission goals before launch. From here, they receive their assignments: Mission Control team or Spacecraft crew.
The Mission Control team guides Spacecraft crew members through their mission. The room is surrounded by large high-definition screens that enhance the visual experience and enable students the ability to observe flight paths, check on the status of the Mission, and watch a live feed of their teammates in the Spacecraft. Specialized lighting indicates emergencies, communications alerts, and Mission status. The new Challenger Learning Center Mission Control was designed with help from Blue Origin, drawing inspiration from their own New Glenn Mission Control.
Next, the Spacecraft crew enters the Transport Room. Buckled into jump seats, the launch sequence begins. Authentic video and audio communications combined with specialized lighting bring the experience to life.
The crew then enters Spacecraft, where they navigate through their Mission, conduct experiments (including using robotic arms, circuit assemblies, and water labs), monitor crew health and safety, complete research, and communicate with teammates in Mission Control. Specialized lighting, like Mission Control, alerts students to emergencies, communications updates, and Mission status. Large monitors above each workstation display emergency messages and videos throughout the experience.
Plan a Future Space Mission
Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, Ed.D., President of the College, shared, “At Montgomery County Community College, we’re proud of the role we play in connecting students of all ages to innovative and inspiring learning experiences. Challenger Learning Center at Montco Pottstown offers a state-of-the-art destination for kids throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania to discover a passion for learning and STEM skills through exciting space simulations and out-of-this-world educational experiences that directly connect to national science standards. Mustang gratitude is extended to the Pottstown School District for being our inaugural partner in this high-impact endeavor.”
Registration for future space missions at Challenger Learning Center at Montco Pottstown is open. Its first full space mission offering, Lunar Quest, is available for learners in 5th through 8th grades. For more information and to book a Lunar Quest Mission, visit mc3.edu/for-our-community/challenger-center.