BY: JEFFREY L. BONEY
Houston Community College (HCC) is on a mission to thrill and educate young students in simulated flights to Mars, the Moon and beyond. That mission was officially launched in Greater Houston area this past Thursday, April 12, when HCC joined Challenger Center President and CEO Lance Bush to announce the new Challenger Learning Center – a place where elementary, middle and high school students will be taught how to apply the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math to a trip to outer space.
This past February, HCC submitted a formal application to Challenger Center, headquartered in Washington D.C., to open a Challenger Learning Center at the HCC Southeast College-Felix Fraga Campus. HCC found out it had received approval late last month, clearing the way for the start of a $2 million fundraising campaign to support construction of the 10,000 square foot Challenger Learning Center.
“HCC is proud to have been selected as the site for the newest Challenger Learning Center,” said HCC Board Chair Carolyn Evans-Shabazz. “Houston put a man on the moon and now HCC is adding to Houston’s heritage as Space City with this project. This new partnership with Challenger Center is a perfect match made in the heavens.”
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center provides more than 250,000 students annually with experiential simulation-based programs that engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs, delivered in Challenger Learning Centers and classrooms, strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created by the Challenger families to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L.
“We are incredibly impressed with Houston Community College’s vision for a seamless STEM pathway that launches students on a trajectory to higher education and 21st century skills,” said Challenger Center President and CEO Lance Bush. “I congratulate everyone at Houston Community College on this extraordinary step to provide students in the area with a STEM experience that will spark a passion for learning that lasts a lifetime. We share both this vision and a passion for inspiring today’s youth, and we look forward to working together to open the doors of this new Center.”
The Challenger Learning Center at Houston Community College will join a network of more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers around the globe. Each Center is a fully immersive experience, including a Mission Control Room and Space Station where students work with hands-on labs, conduct experiments and analyze data during a Challenger Center Mission. Students learn teamwork, communicate with one another to complete tasks and solve problems when emergencies arise. Aligned with national education standards and informed by real science data, Challenger Learning Center Missions introduce students to careers in STEM fields and help them build important 21st Century skills.
“This will add to HCC’s growing innovative educational offerings that already include participation in the city’s new innovation corridor in Midtown and partnerships with NASA and the University of Houston to build a Mars surface habitat and other additional facilities for manned missions to Mars,” said HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado. “Today’s students are the innovators, explorers and designers of tomorrow. We must nurture their excitement and inspire their imagination.”
The Felix Fraga Campus, located on 11 acres at 301 N. Drennan St. in southeast Houston, offers a rigorous STEM curriculum that includes engineering, maritime logistics, drafting, math, physics and astronomy. It also has an astronomical observatory to serve students and the community.
The Challenger Learning Center will be a fantastic addition to the Houston community and will add to HCC’s growing innovation- based educational offerings.
For more information about Challenger Center, please visit www.challenger.org.
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