Press Releases

Challenger Center Heads to Derby City

WASHINGTON (August 4, 2014) – Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center), in partnership with its Louisville-based Challenger Learning Center, will host the organization’s annual meeting in Louisville, Ky. from August 10-14. The network of more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers (Centers) around the world will take part in the four-day conference to connect and share best practices, discuss new programming and technologies, and strategize ways to expand and deepen the organization’s educational impact.

“Surrounded by a community that has demonstrated its commitment to education, we are thrilled that Challenger Learning Center-Louisville was selected to serve as the host Center of this year’s annual conference.” said Dr. Lance Bush, president and CEO, Challenger Center. “We are excited to bring our educators, corporate partners like NASA and NOAA, and our distinguished board of directors to experience everything this amazing city has to offer.”

Taking place at the city’s landmark Brown Hotel, the conference includes presentations from internal Challenger Center educators along with outside experts from a variety of fields. Presentations, panels, and workshops fill the conference agenda and provide Centers with up-to-date information, program ideas and networking opportunities. Guest speakers share critical information that the Centers can utilize to strengthen their programs.

Conference begins Monday, August 11 with remarks from Bush and Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens. Special guest Barbara Morgan, former NASA astronaut, backup Teacher in Space, and Challenger Center board member will close out the morning’s session. Morgan, currently a distinguished educator in residence at Boise State University, will also keynote “Louisville’s Night at the Conference,” a special evening hosted by the local Challenger Learning Center and emceed by former Miss America Heather French Henry. This community event will celebrate the local organization and recognize long-time supporters of Challenger Learning Center-Louisville.

For the first time, local teachers have been invited to participate in the opening day of conference as a form of professional development. The sessions will include both local and national experts representing organizations including NASA, NOAA, University of Louisville, Jefferson County Public Schools, Moorehead State University and Kentucky Space, LLC.

Throughout the rest of the week, the group will hear from various fundraising and marketing professionals, their own Challenger Center colleagues and the Kentucky Department of Education. In addition to education sessions, top performing Challenger Learning Centers and staff members will be honored at the organization’s annual awards ceremony on Tuesday morning. This year’s event includes keynote speaker Tony Magee, director of STEM education outreach at Aerojet Rocketdyne. The conference will come to a close Thursday morning when William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, addresses the group.

During this year’s meeting, Centers will visit the local Challenger Learning Center-Louisville where the organization’s newest simulated mission – Earth Odyssey – will be unveiled. The mission, operating on a proprietary state-of-the-art technology platform that launched earlier this year, is aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards and contains completely new educational content. Earth Odyssey brings earth science to life and puts students to work observing the Earth and its changes while creating a new micro satellite to replace one that has been damaged. Challenger Center’s Lunar Quest moon-based mission will launch in late September.

For more information about the 2014 Challenger Center Annual Conference, including a full agenda and registration for both the Teacher Professional development day and Louisville’s night at the conference special event, please visit

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About Challenger Center for Space Science Education (Challenger Center)
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its international network of more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers use space simulations to engage students in dynamic, hands-on opportunities that strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Centers across the US, Canada, United Kingdom, and South Korea reach hundreds of thousands of students each year. Founded in 1986, Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L: Dick Scobee, Gregory Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Michael J. Smith. For more information, visit

About Challenger Learning Center – Louisville
Challenger Learning Center – Louisville opened January 28th, 2011, the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. One of three Challenger Centers in Kentucky, the Louisville Center is owned and operated by Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and serves students from centurial Kentucky and southern Indiana. Housed at The Academy @ Shawnee, JCPS’s Aerospace Magnet School, the Center offers a unique menu of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs for grades K-12. Challenger Learning Center – Louisville is the host Center of the 2014 Challenger Center annual conference. To learn more, visit