Blogs | 5.3.2022
Grand Opening of Challenger Learning Center at SC4
This past weekend, St. Clair County Community College (SC4), in collaboration with Unity in Learning, and in partnership with Challenger Center, officially opened the doors to a new and exciting immersive STEM experience for Michigan and Ontario residents. Located in Port Huron, Michigan, Challenger Learning Center at SC4 is the only Center of its kind in Michigan and one of 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.
June Scobee Rodgers, Ph.D., founding chair of Challenger Center and widow of Challenger Space Shuttle Commander Richard “Dick” Scobee; members of the Challenger Center Board of Directors and former NASA astronauts Robert Curbeam and Dorothy (“Dottie”) Metcalf-Lindenburger; and Challenger Center President and CEO Lance Bush, Ph.D. joined the celebration.
“The Challenger crew’s desire to teach and inspire our children lives on in each of our Challenger Learning Centers around the globe,” Scobee Rodgers said. “We are thrilled to welcome St. Clair County Community College to this group of Centers and bring our inspiring STEM programs to the community.”
Metcalf-Lindenburger shared, “I would describe a Challenger Learning Center as a place you want to keep coming back to for an immersive Mission experience that sparks your imagination.”
Inside the Challenger Learning Center at SC4
Learners of all ages toured the Challenger Learning Center during the two-day launch event at SC4’s Experience Center. Let’s take a closer look inside . . .
All Center Missions are led by trained Flight Directors. 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.
Before the Spacecraft crew can initiate transport, they must go through the decontamination process. 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. Deborah Snyder, president of St. Clair County Community College, shared, “We are committed to expanding student interest in STEM and encouraging STEM higher education opportunities on our campus. The addition of a Challenger Learning Center supports the college and our community by fostering a robust culture of STEM; strengthening STEM education opportunities; integrating business, industry, and educational entities; and creating high-quality educational experiences for learners of all ages.”
Registration for future space missions at Challenger Learning Center at SC4 is open. Its first full space mission offering, Lunar Quest, is available for learners in 5th grade and above. For more information and to book a Lunar Quest mission, visit challenger.sc4.edu.