The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky

Areas Served: SOAR Counties
PROBLEM: Creating the 21st Century workforce of tomorrow must start today. Young people must be exposed to what the career opportunities of tomorrow can possibly be and what knowledge and skills are needed to succeed. They must see the relevance in what they're being asked to learn and must be inspired and motivated to pursue challenging coursework. Exposure to technical fields at an early age is critical and young people need a place to explore and learn.
SOLUTON: The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky provides unique learning experiences in all aspects of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) that allow young people to explore career possibilities in a fun and exciting environment. Learning is always relevant at the Challenger Center where all activities are hands-on and minds-on. Whether flying a simulated mission into space, designing, building, and programming a robot to accomplish an important task, or visiting a mad scientist's laboratory using virtual reality, young people will get that critical exposure to the cool opportunities available in the STEM fields of tomorrow. And all of this is available right here in southeastern Kentucky!
Solution Summary: Last updated 07-25-2017

The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky (CLCKY) provides a first class, space-based learning environment where students “fly” simulated space missions. The CLCKY features a Mission Control Center modeled after the one at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, a Transporter/Space Shuttle, and a Spacecraft/Space Station simulator where experiments are performed and probes are assembled and “launched” into the depths of outer space. These simulated “out-of-this-world” experiences allow students to apply and learn skills in mathematics, science, technology, language, reading, communication, geography and team-building. Although Simulated Space Missions are Challenger Centers’ keystone program, other STEM programs have been created and implemented to meet the needs in our region. The CLCKY partnered with the coal industry a few years ago to develop a program called “Mars Invasion 2030, From Coal Camp to Space Camp” which demonstrates the similarities and differences in coal mining and space science or “space mining” and the need for math, science, and technology in both fields. The CLCKY started the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Robotics program in southeastern Kentucky for 9-14 year olds. Before this program was started there were no robotics programs for the middle schools in our region. The CLCKY has helped start close to 30 robotics teams since the program started about 7 years ago. Each December we host a regional FLL competition and the winners of our competition go on to compete in the Kentucky FLL state competition at Northern Kentucky University. Other programs provided for students/schools in our region are: • A kindergarten-5th grade STEM Outreach program. In the 2016-2017 school year, almost 4,000 K-5 students participated in this program in 16 schools. • CLCKY offers a large variety of STEM summer programs • For 3 consecutive years MIT and Harvard Engineering students have visited the Center to provide a two-day Engineering Learning Festival for middle and high school students in our region. In June around 75 students participated in the two day event. We are currently working with a group of Stanford students to arrange a learning festival event at the Center in August. • The CLCKY has partnered with Twiggs Space Labs and the Virginia Space Flight Authority to involve 3 schools in our region in a STEM Sat program where middle school students will be launching a small satellite and monitoring environmental conditions in low earth orbit. The satellite is to be launched in summer 2018.

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