January 28, 2016, marks the 30th anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy and is also NASA’s Day of Remembrance to honor astronauts who lost their lives in pursuit of space exploration and discovery. Challenger Learning Centers around the country recognize the anniversary through special events, programs, and discussions with their local students, teachers, and community members. The UTC Center hosted local elementary students for a mission.
Challenger Learning Center staff accompanied family members to Thursday’s events at Arlington National Cemetery and Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex to remember the crew of Challenger shuttle flight STS-51-L, including Teacher-in-Space Payload Specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Commander Francis R. “Dick” Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Mission Specialists Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka and Ronald E. McNair, and Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis.
The UTC Challenger STEM Learning Center opened its doors 21 years ago as a living legacy to the astronauts of the Space Shuttle Challenger and continues inspiring students 30 years after the accident. The UTC Center is a member of the network founded by the Challenger families that is recognized as a leading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education organization. Over 4.4 million students at more than forty Challenger Learning Centers around the globe have experienced Challenger programs.
Each Challenger Learning Center transports students into a cutting edge Mission Control room and a high-tech Space Station. Using custom-designed simulations, students have the opportunity to fly one of several missions to study the Earth, the moon, Mars, or a comet. The missions are aligned with current national education standards and are accompanied by classroom lessons and activities. This differentiated approach allows for a truly personalized learning experience where students apply scientific knowledge to real-world scenarios and practice 21st century skills like problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork. Since opening in 1995, over 170,000 students and teachers have visited the UTC Challenger Center.
“The Challenger families agreed it was important for the world to remember how the crew lived and what they were passionate about, not how they died,” said Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, founding chair of the Challenger Center and widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee. “I know Dick and the crew would be so proud. They would love the enthusiasm of the children who visit our Centers. They were inspiring the future 30 years ago, and we’re so pleased that the mission continues to live on today through our Challenger Learning Centers.”