Challenger Center Increasing Reach

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The mission of the Indianapolis Challenger Learning Center of Decatur Township is expanding. A new partnership between the Central Indiana Educational Services Center and the area's school district will give more schools throughout the state access to the hands-on space simulator. The center also wants to boost outreach to Indiana businesses. July 17, 2013

News Release

NDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 17, 2013) -- The mission expands. The Indianapolis Challenger Learning Center of Decatur Township will be officially re-launched today, thanks to a partnership between the District and the Central Indiana Educational Services Center (CIESC). The new partnership extends access to more schools across the state, and offers more enriched student and corporate missions.

Under CIESC, this Challenger Learning Center has plans to increase the hands-on space simulator field trips by 50 percent this year to 300 missions, and boost outreach to Indiana businesses and school districts. The half-day and full-day programs provide students and adults with an interactive computer simulation, a mission control patterned after NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and an orbiting space station ready for exploration.

“A lot of employers want more students to be involved with the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering and math) to better prepare them for college, career and the workplace,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, CIESC Executive Director. “Our emphasis is on enabling more K-12 students to be curious and critical thinkers. Thanks to the leadership of our Board, we can deliver a high-value, high- impact experience at a very affordable rate to schools, companies and organizations. It’s designed to be a self-sustaining program, not a profit center.”

In the past ten years, more than 40,000 students and adults have experienced the hands-on thrill of discovery and the challenge of solving real-world problems as astronauts and engineers at the Indianapolis Challenger Learning Center in Decatur Township. (www.challengerindy.org) The Challenger Center, located at 5125 Decatur Blvd., Indianapolis, is one of 45 Challenger Centers worldwide, and one of three in Indiana.

“We were thrilled to open the Indiana Challenger Learning Center of Decatur Township in 2004. The space simulators and real-world applications not only focus on STEM education, but also on the needed 21st century skills of communication, critical thinking, and team work. We are equally excited today as CIESC becomes responsible for this important program. We see this change as a natural progression in the growth of the Center,” said newly-retired MSD of Decatur Township Superintendent Dr. Debbie Sullivan.

The President of the West Side Chamber of Commerce agrees. “To be able to inspire students early on and get them interested in higher education and the STEM fields is absolutely vital,” said Rick Proctor, Vice-President, BMO Harris Bank and a Challenger Center Advisory Board member. “The Challenger Learning Center is the place where education comes to life. Students realize the things they are learning in the classroom are exciting and have practical applications. It’s inspirational,” he added.

The impetus for the founding of Challenger Learning Centers came from the Challenger Shuttle disaster in 1986. The families of crew members wanted the educational focus of that mission to continue. The Indianapolis Challenger Learning Center of Decatur Township is a member of the National Challenger Learning Center Network, with sites in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and South Korea.

Source: Indianapolis Challenger Learning Center of Decatur Township