COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – On Thursday, the newly remodeled Challenger Learning Center held its grand opening and cemented itself as Colorado’s only hands-on student space exploration program.

Rob Fredell, President and CEO said, “We are really excited to be rededicating our new challenger center. We have been operating for 17 years in a much smaller facility. But now, we are moving into this great new facility with a planetarium, with an upgraded space simulator.”

After the Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy in 1986, the crew’s family members decided to create a living memorial, a space science education center where teachers and students could use space life simulators.

Fredell said, “Well we are in a competition for the minds and hearts of children. Are they going to become full-time gamers or athletes? We need both of those, but we also need STEM professionals.”

And the goal of this new learning center to serve all Colorado students and promote a love of learning for space, science, and math.

“I think when kids come here they learn why they need to study math and science, that STEM is a team sport,” said Fredell.

Cate Hummell is a sophomore at Air Academy, she went through this program when she was younger and ever since it’s left an imprint on her life.

“It set me on my path for my career and everything and I really hope that every other kid that comes through here has that same experience and gets that same insight in what they want to do,” said Hummell.

There are 43 locations worldwide, but the Colorado Springs location is the only one in the Rocky Mountain Region.

“A lot of people don’t realize how big the space business is in Colorado,” said Fredell. “By some measures, we are the second largest state for the space economy. It’s really important that we develop that next generation of space workers and space professionals.”

The new space facility is located in Academy District 20 and is now adjacent to Legacy Peak Elementary and the District’s Center for Modern Learning. If you would like to check out the learning facility for yourself, there will be a community open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Source: KRDO