Challenger Learning Center

Discovery's Challenger Learning Center is available by reservation for schools, scouts, birthday parties, groups, corporate team building and more.
Challenger Learning Center
The Challenger Learning Center at The Discovery Museum is a living testimony to the dream of the Challenger astronauts. When the crew of the Challenger space shuttle flight 51-L perished in 1986, they were on a pioneering mission to extend the boundaries of human knowledge. The crew's mission of education continues through the students who visit the Challenger Learning Center.

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What is a Challenger Learning Center?

The Challenger Learning Center at The Discovery Museum is part of an internationally acclaimed Network located at 48 sites throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

Challenger Controls

Challenger uses state-of-the-art, innovative educational simulators. At the core of each Center is a two-room simulator, consisting of a Space Station and Mission Control. Students become astronauts, engineers, and scientists in order to complete their mission. The crew uses navigational skills, builds a probe, and works at various stations including life support, robotics, and communication.

All of the programs conducted at the Challenger Learning Centers utilize the same exceptional educational model that emphasizes educational content, cooperative learning, problem-solving, and responsible decision-making.

Challenger Experience

An adventure at the Challenger Learning Center is not just a field trip. Rather, it is an exceptional educational opportunity for students to see themselves in successful roles as scientists, engineers, and researchers. Located inside the Museum, the CLC of Connecticut is a technology-packed, interactive learning environment that immerses students and teachers in a unique space simulation. There are three main components that make up a Challenger Learning Center experience:

Teacher Preparation
Teachers participate in a half-day in-service training program during which they participate in an actual mission and receive preparatory materials for classroom use before their scheduled class visit. These materials are specially designed to prepare the students for their mission and include skill-building activities in the areas of teamwork and communication.

Additionally, teachers receive materials to help the students understand the thematic topic of their mission. Back at the classroom, teachers have the students fill out job applications and each student is assigned to one of the eight teams that comprise the crew. Students prepare for the mission as well as their individual job assignments, just like the astronauts in NASA.

Downloadable PDF's of Mission Prep documents:

The Mission
CLC Mission Control
When students arrive at a Challenger Learning Center, a short briefing is held in which the Mission Commanders and the student astronauts review their mission objectives. The group is then divided, so that the Mission Controllers can take their stations and the astronauts "blast off" to the Space Station. Throughout the two hour mission, students are presented with tasks and realistic dilemmas that build problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills. Halfway through, the mission requires a crew exchange so everyone has an opportunity to experience both Mission Control and the Space Station

Post-Visit Activities
Even though the mission may be over, the learning goes on! Once the students have returned to school there are specific activities designed to help extend the experience, such as further analysis and discussion on the data gathered during the mission, post-flight briefings conducted by and for the students, as well as student-run news conferences, all of which help to transfer what they have learned back to their classroom.

The Details
The Challenger Learning Center experience is ideal for students in grades 4-8. Each mission is comprised of a crew having a minimum of 18 and a maximum of 36 participants, not including 2 to 4 adults. School missions may be run twice each day: 9:00-11:00 am and 12:00-2:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Missions will also be run after school hours upon request for other groups such as youth groups, scout groups, etc. The cost of each mission includes teacher training, pre- and post-visit materials, admission to the museum, and the mission itself.

For more information, please contact Lynn Harris Olins at 203.372.3521 Ext. 121