Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What experiences might one encounter at the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky?

Well, you can blast off for a simulated experience of flying a space mission to “Rendezvous With a Comet”, take a “Voyage to Mars”, or “Return to the Moon”.   You can learn how coal mining and space science are alike with our Mars Invasion 2030, From Coal Camp to Space Camp program.  You might put together your own robotics team and compete in a FIRST LEGO League tournament or join a Space Movie team and create your own space science documentary.  You might also study Martian dirt, build a space probe, map a planet, see how big the sun is, see a model of the space shuttle and International Space Station, and see the rings of Saturn through a telescope.  There are always exciting things to do at the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky all year around!

How do students benefit from the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky Program?

Students apply the science, technology, engineering, and math that they learn in the classroom in a fun and exciting way when they participate in Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky programs.  A "Mission Prep" classroom curriculum, in which activities are aligned with the National Science & Math Standards and Kentucky's core content and program of studies, is key to a successful experience at the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky. Teachers attend a one-day professional development session that prepares them to prepare the students for their mission. The students then apply the knowledge learned in the classroom in a serious, action packed, mission simulation when they come to the Challenger Learning Center. The Kentucky Department of Education has recommended the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky as a Model Program for integrated curriculum and has endorsed the use of simulations to motivate students in the classroom. KDE has also urged that the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky be included in district-consolidated plans.

Who does the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky serve?

The Challenger Center's primary customers have been school districts within a 3-hour drive of the center. Within these school districts, classrooms of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students have been our main target audience because middle school is typically where students get frustrated and “lose” their interest in science, engineering, and mathematics.  We continue to expand our program offerings and now offer programs designed for almost all grade levels.  We can even customize a program for your class! Generally the visits of these classroom groups are scheduled during regular school hours. However, the Challenger Center encourages all other groups to schedule missions for summer, weekend, and evening sessions. Groups have included youth clubs, church groups, Scouts, 4-H groups, and summer school groups.

What are the center's hours of operation?

The Center is open from 8:00 AM until 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Evening, Weekend, and summer events can often be scheduled in advance.

How long does it take to fly a Challenger Center Simulated Mission?

Most simulated missions take approximately 2 hours to complete.

What is the Challenger Center for Space Science Education?

The Challenger Center for Space Science Education is the parent organization for the 47 Challenger Learning Centers across the world.  It was formed in 1986 in the aftermath of the NASA Challenger disaster. The families of those killed when the Challenger space shuttle exploded decided to form a living memorial to the shuttle crew and created the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. The first Challenger Learning Center opened a few months later in Houston, Texas. The family members of those Challenger Astronauts are still involved in the Challenger Center program.

How many people can participate in a Challenger Learning Center Simulated Mission?

A mission group is considered to be from 20-34 individuals with 26 considered the optimal number. The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky can accommodate two groups of up to 34 each at the center, at the same time if they alternate between the simulated mission and our hands-on, extended activities that also focus on science, mathematics, and communication skills. These extended activities do cost extra.

How did Hazard become a Challenger Learning Center site?

In the spring of 1996, former Hazard High School Home Economics teacher Alice Noble visited a Challenger Learning Center in Brownsburg, Indiana, just outside of Indianapolis. She immediately knew that the progressive leaders in her hometown would love the Challenger Learning Center concept to get kids excited about learning science, mathematics, and technology and would jump at the opportunity to locate one in Hazard. By September of 1996, Hazard, Kentucky was the first site in Kentucky, and the first rural site anywhere, to be approved by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education for a Challenger Learning Center.

Are Adult Missions possible?

Yes! The simulated space missions can be challenging for even adults and can be invaluable for corporations, school personnel, and civic groups looking for a teambuilding, communication-building activity for their staffs. The nature of a space mission, with the mission crew in space and the support team in Mission Control on earth, forces individuals to remotely work and communicate together as a team to successfully complete their mission.

How can my school, corporation, or youth group become involved in the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky Program?

Call or email us at the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky for availability of simulated missions, astronomy programs, summer space academies, FIRST Robotics, KY Space Movie, or other special programs and events.