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Engage students and teachers in dynamic, hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities that strengthen knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), inspire students to pursue careers in these fields, and provide an outlet to learn and apply important life skills.


On January 28, 1986, the seven crew members of the Space Shuttle Challenger/STS-51L “Teacher in Space” mission set out to broaden educational horizons and advance scientific knowledge. Their mission exemplified man’s noblest and most wondrous qualities – to explore, discover, and teach. To the nation’s shock and sorrow, their Space Shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff.  In the aftermath of the Challenger accident, the crew’s families came together, firmly committed to the belief that they must carry on the spirit of their loved ones by continuing the Challenger crew’s educational mission. In April 1986, they created Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center).

What They Do:

Their unique and proven teaching model – Challenger Learning Centers – gives students the chance to become astronauts and engineers and solve real-world problems as they share the thrill of discovery on missions through the Solar System. Using space simulation and role-playing strategies, students bring their classroom studies to life and cultivate the skills needed for future success. Challenger Learning Centers reach into communities around the globe, engaging more than 400,000 middle school-age students and 40,000 educators each year.

Challenger Learning Center Network

The foundation of the organization is the global network of Challenger Learning Centers. The core of each Challenger Learning Center is an interactive computerized simulator with a Mission Control room patterned after the NASA Johnson Space Center and an orbiting Space Station ready for exploration. These hands-on facilities give students the chance to participate in dynamic simulated space missions and cultivate the skills needed for future success, such as team work and problem solving. Through partnerships with science centers, museums, universities and schools, there are more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers located throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and South Korea – with more opening soon.