Challenger Learning Center at SC4 announces April 8 public mission date

>>> Register here

Challenger Learning Center at St. Clair County Community College (SC4) will launch visitors to the moon with Mission: Lunar Quest at 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 8. The mission date is open to the public and limited to the first 34 registrants. Seats on the mission are $25 per person and those ages 10-99+ are welcome!

Challenger Learning Center at SC4 is the only Center of its kind in Michigan and one of 40 Challenger Learning Centers nationwide and around the world. It is a fully immersive, space-themed experience aimed at deepening understanding and appreciation of STEM careers and topics and building critical 21st-century skills. It offers unique learning and team-building opportunities for students, educators, corporations and community residents.

Mission participants will launch to the moon in search of a long-term human habitat, command and assist in Mission Control, or board the Spacecraft as an astronaut, serving on teams like biology, geology, weather, robotics, life support and more. They will help deploy a Lunar Exploration Rover to investigate areas of the lunar surface and make critical decisions to turn a potential catastrophe into NASA’s finest hour.

Challenger Center was founded in 1986 in the aftermath of the Challenger shuttle tragedy. The families of the crew came together and created Challenger Center to carry on the spirit of their loved ones and continue the Challenger crew’s educational mission. Challenger Center, with its network of Challenger Learning Centers and digital programs, has reached more than 5.5 million students and learners worldwide.

Register for the April 8 mission at Mission: Lunar Quest is open to learners in 5th grade and beyond. Support may be available. Contact us with inquiries and questions at or (810) 989-5789.

To schedule a full group mission at another time, visit

Please note the mission date set for May 20 has been postponed. Please check often for other future open mission dates.

SC4 hosts SkillsUSA Regional Welding Competition

St. Clair County Community College (SC4) was pleased to host the SkillsUSA Regional Welding Competition on Friday, Feb. 10, in the Acheson Technology Center. Longtime SC4 welding professor Joseph McFalda served as the competition facilitator.

The approximately 30 junior and senior students competing at SC4 came from St. Clair County TEC, Oakland Schools Technical Campuses (OSTC), Warren Consolidated Schools and Centerline Public Schools (CPC).

Students receive a blueprint and precut metal at the competition. They are then judged on skill as well as how clean and safely each piece is welded in four categories: gas metal arc welding, gas tungsten arc welding, shielded metal arc welding, and overall.

Winners, who will now go on to compete in the state competition, included:

Gas metal arc welding
1st place – Lucas Jones – CPC
2nd Place – Derek Buckles – CPC
3rd Place – Carter Belian – CPC

Shielded metal arc welding
1st place – Scott Pauly – St. Clair County TEC
2nd Place – Gregory Jones – St. Clair County TEC
3rd Place – Remington Koveck – St. Clair County TEC

Gas tungsten arc welding
1st Place – Zachary Vanbuskirk – St. Clair County TEC
2nd Place – Colin Turzak – OSTC
3rd Place – Dylan Emmert – St. Clair County TEC

1st Place – Lukas Morris – St. Clair County TEC
2nd Place – Logan Fiedler – St. Clair County TEC
3rd Place – Derek Gurne – St. Clair County TEC

“Welders are needed more now than ever,” said McFalda, who’s been judging competitions for more than 15 years. “This type of competition takes students out of their comfort zone and simulates going in for a job interview or a job test, where everything is new. They don’t know what to do sometimes or what to expect. It’s a little more real-world for them.”

He added, “Students can make a very good living being a welder. They can spend an entire career getting better as they go. I’ve been doing it for 45 years. I’ve never tired of it and am still learning and getting better.”

Alumni Spotlight: Loren Gajda

Current or most recent title and employer?
Non-traditional student

How did SC4 help prepare you?
I finished my associate degree at SC4. SC4 helped me identify my academic strengths and weaknesses, and how to navigate toward my long-term professional goals.

What do you like most about what you do professionally?
I’m currently transitioning careers and am yet again in school, but SC4 was the first stepping stone in my professional journey. SC4 was the foundation for my current career path.

Did you transfer on and earn other degrees? If so, what degrees and from where?
I graduated from SC4 in 2016. Afterward, I joined the Navy. After that, I graduated from Tulsa Welding School Jacksonville Professional Welder Program, and now I’m currently an undergraduate Russian language student at Stetson University in Florida.

SC4 welcomes retired NASA astronaut to SC4 STEM Fest  

PORT HURON – Attendees at SC4 STEM Fest on March 11 will have the opportunity to meet retired NASA astronaut Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger

Metcalf-Lindenburger—who also was present for the launch of Challenger Learning Center at SC4 in April 2022—currently leads her own speaking and consulting business, Dottie ML, LLC. 

A former high school earth science and astronomy teacher, Metcalf-Lindenburger was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 2004. She completed astronaut training in 2006 and in 2010 served as a mission specialist on STS-131, a re-supply space shuttle mission to the International Space Station. 

In 2012, Metcalf-Lindenburger commanded the NEEMO 16, a 12-day, undersea exploration mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory, which resulted in her becoming an aquanaut for spending over 24 hours underwater. 

Metcalf-Lindenburger retired from NASA in 2014.  

“I’m looking forward to the upcoming SC4 STEM Fest because I enjoy engaging students to think about and experience what is possible for them,” Metcalf-Lindenburger said. “Also, I know how impactful STEM events were in shaping my early career path, and the Challenger Learning Center at SC4 will definitely launch their dreams!”

Among her many honors and accolades, she is a recipient of the Space Flight Medal for STS-131 (2010), Duncan Bonjorni Extraordinary Achievement Award from Central Washington University (2010), Pete Reid Award for Young Alumni from Whitman College (2009), VIP for the Vancouver School District (2004), Outstanding Teacher Preparation Candidate at Central Washington University (1999), Academic All-American for Cross Country and Track NAIA Division (1995 and 1996), 1996 NAIA Conference Champion in the 10K, and a 2007 Space Camp Hall of Fame Inaugural Inductee.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dottie back to campus,” said Kristin Copenhaver, SC4 chief marketing officer. “Her career illustrates what’s possible to achieve when you are passionate about and committed to what you do. Her presence at STEM Fest will inspire future generations of leaders and scientists.”

SC4 STEM Fest takes place Saturday, March 11, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on SC4’s Port Huron campus. The event—which is free and open to the public thanks to generous donations and grants—aims to spark a sense of wonder and features more than 100 hands-on, interactive science, technology, engineering and mathematics exhibits by SC4, Michigan Technological University’s Mind Trekkers, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and the Leslie Science & Nature Center

Experiences and activities will take place throughout SC4’s Fieldhouse and Clara E. Mackenzie Building / Experience Center, which includes Challenger Learning Center at SC4, the Dr. Bassam H. Nasr Natural Science Museum, a live sturgeon exhibit, virtual reality experience, health activities, exploration stations, and bird and mineral galleries. 

The event’s more than 100 activities and exhibits will have learners exploring a wide array of STEM topics. Some hands-on highlights for the event include a Challenger Mini-Mission: An Interactive Challenger Learning Center Tour,, virtual reality simulations, virtual anatomy dissection, rocket launches, robotics technology, live animal exhibits and wildlife presentations, awe-inspiring experiments using liquid nitrogen—and many more! 

Register for the SC4 STEM Fest at Please direct questions to SC4 at (810) 989-5789 or

Alumni Spotlight: Todd Armstrong

Current or most recent title and employer?
Supervisor of Parole and Probation / Michigan Department of Corrections

How did SC4 help prepare you?
SC4 gave me the opportunity to begin my higher education close to home so I could work part-time, attend school and save money. SC4 provided a solid educational foundation, which I utilized to continue my pursuit of higher education.

What do you like most about what you do professionally?
I supervise an office of probation officers, which serves the circuit court judges in St. Clair County. Our office supervises close to 500 adult felony probationers.

Did you transfer on and earn other degrees? If so, what degrees and from where?
I transferred to Ferris State University and earned a Bachelor of Science. I later attended Wayne State University and earned a Juris Doctor.

SC4 announces April 18 Career/Job Fair

The 2023 St. Clair County Community College (SC4) Career/Job Fair will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 18. The event will bring hundreds of students, alumni and community members to the SC4 Fieldhouse.
The Career Fair portion of the event allows participants to learn about opportunities to start their career path at SC4 and talk with professionals in various career fields about key skills needed to succeed. Event participants can meet with an SC4 recruiter to walk through the steps to an enriching career, discuss career paths with health career educators, and explore apprenticeship options with the SC4 apprenticeship coordinator.
The Job Fair portion of the event provides attendees with opportunities to find employment in a wide variety of industries across the region.
Job Fair tables are expected to fill to capacity. Interested employers in search of qualified candidates are encouraged to register as early as possible at
SC4 is collaborating with the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County, Macomb/St. Clair Michigan Works!, the City of Port Huron/McMorran Place and SC4’s Support Services, including the TRIO Program, for this year’s event.

SC4 receives $955,000 for Challenger Learning Center at SC4, Experience Center

St. Clair County Community College (SC4) has received $955,000 in federal funds appropriated by U.S. Senator Gary Peters to support STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning opportunities at SC4’s Challenger Learning Center and Experience Center.

Funds will be used to provide greater opportunities for valuable STEM-based experiences for learners of all ages.

“Many thanks to Senator Gary Peters and his staff for supporting SC4 and our efforts to encourage STEM learning in Michigan,” said Dr. Deborah A. Snyder, president of SC4. “Our state and nation need future leaders who are adept at understanding and solving the challenging problems of today and the future. SC4 will play an even greater role in preparing future leaders and innovators thanks to this support.”

Senator Peters and his staff recently toured the Experience Center and Challenger Learning Center.

“I’m proud to have helped secure this funding for the Challenger Center to encourage STEM learning for Michiganders of all ages,” said Senator Peters.“After visiting the Center and seeing the exhibits firsthand, I know this is a meaningful investment in St. Clair County and will provide invaluable learning experiences for its visitors.”

More than 2,500 people have visited the Challenger Learning Center at SC4 since it launched in April 2022. The Center provides visitors with a space-themed, simulated learning and role-playing experience that teaches them about STEM careers and cultivates problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills.

Located in SC4’s Experience Center—which also is home to the Dr. Bassam H. Nasr Natural Science Museum, mineral and bird galleries, and health sciences virtual reality and dissection technology exhibits—Challenger Learning Center at SC4 is the only Center of its kind in Michigan and one of 40 Challenger Learning Centers nationwide and around the world.

Upcoming Experience Center and Challenger Learning Center at SC4 events and opportunities for learners of all ages include:

  • School field trips for half- or full-day STEM learning tied to national science standards.
  • Group missions and experiences – Book a group of 18-34 guests anytime!
  • Feb. 18 open mission – Book one or more seats on a mission and meet others who will join you on your flight!
  • March 11 SC4 STEM Fest – Register for this exciting event, which features 100+ hands-on experiences by SC4, with Michigan Technological University’s Mind Trekkers, the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and the Leslie Science & Nature Center
  • Summer STEM camp opportunities

“We’ve welcomed students, educators, superintendents, businesses and corporations, friends and residents from across Michigan,” said Kristin Copenhaver, SC4 chief marketing officer. “The feedback has been incredible. In fact, many guests are re-booking missions immediately after visiting!”

For more information, visit or send an email to

SC4 event to explore Toni Morrison’s short story ‘Recitatif’

St. Clair County Community College’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will host a guided book discussion highlighting “Recitatif,” a New York Times best-seller by Toni Morrison, on Friday, March 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in SC4’s Fine Arts Theatre.

“Recitatif” is the powerful story of two young girls, Twyla and Roberta, who are roommates at St. Bonny’s Orphanage. Morrison keeps Twyla’s and Roberta’s races ambiguous throughout the story and weaves themes of friendship, race, childhood, memory and trauma throughout the story.

Dr. Leah Howell, director of Learning Design at Everspring, Inc., and Dr. Portia Watkins, Michigan State University director of Transitions and Transfer Student Success and a trainer of the Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation program, will serve as facilitators for the event.

The event will explore the key themes and symbols found throughout “Recitatif” within the context of the American education and foster care systems, examine the impact of the narrative decisions made by Morrison on the reader’s experience of the story, and reflect on the power of friendship. Attendees will be invited to reflect on their own assumptions and personal experience of relationships over time, the impact of our environment on how we learn to navigate relationships, and the role of human connection and belonging in our lives.

Book are available by contacting SC4’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at (810) 989-5564 or visiting the DEI office during normal business hours in SC4’s Welcome Center.

To register for this free event, visit or send an email to

Cros-Lex seventh graders launch to the moon thanks to Eastern Michigan Bank support

Challenger Learning Center at SC4 recently welcomed 145 seventh-grade students from Croswell-Lexington Community Schools thanks to generous support from Eastern Michigan Bank, which provided funds to cover mission fees for all the students.

“We are so fortunate to have access to such a unique opportunity as the Challenger Learning Center right here in our own backyard,” said Eastern Michigan Bank President and CEO Will Oldford. “Being able to introduce our local students to the vast array of opportunities in STEM that are available to them as possible career choices is a terrific benefit, and Eastern Michigan Bank is proud to be able to sponsor this experience for a number of our local youth.”

The students were divided into four missions at the Challenger Learning Center, with each group launching to the moon in a fully immersive, space-themed experience to learn more about STEM careers and topics and build communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills. While there, they commanded and assisted in Mission Control, boarded the Spacecraft as astronauts, and served on teams like biology, geology, weather, robotics, life support and more.

Croswell-Lexington Middle School Principal Brad Robbins says the students were grateful and eager to have the opportunity to go on a field trip as many of those opportunities had diminished during the recent pandemic.

“The Challenger Center was the perfect trip for our 7th graders to experience as a welcome back type event,” Robbins said. “They were busy and engaged in their work, but it was fun and had a sense of purpose. The staff did a great job and it was very easy to set up. The communication with the Challenger team was top-notch, and the overall experience was first class.”

For students Jaxon Stacer and Kendell Freiberg, the trip to Challenger Learning Center at SC4 provided an opportunity to learn about STEM concepts in a fun, hands-on manner.

“I really liked all of the tech stuff that they had us do during the mission,” Stacer said. “It kept us really busy, and we had a lot of fun. I also liked how we went around and toured the nature center [in the Experience Center].”

Added Freiberg, “I had a good time as a member of the medical team. We had a lot of jobs, and I didn’t know that there were so many things happening on the ground while astronauts were in space.”

Since its launch in April 2022, more than 2,500 students, visitors, educators, business employees, community residents and friends from close to 100 zip codes have visited Challenger Learning Center at SC4.

The Center now offers two missions for visitors to enjoy. In Mission Lunar Quest, which is available for learners in fifth grade and beyond, mission participants deploy a Lunar Exploration Rover to investigate areas of the lunar surface and make critical decisions to turn a potential catastrophe into NASA’s finest hour. In Operation Comet, which is new to Challenger Learning Center at SC4 as of January 2023 and expands programming to third-grade and above learners, the mission crew must quickly reengineer a robotic probe so that it can stop a comet from a direct collision with Earth.

“We’ve had many visitors from right here in the Blue Water area but also from well beyond in counties across Southeast Michigan,” said Kristin Copenhaver, chief marketing officer. “We’re finding that many visitors are rebooking new missions right after they visit, and we anticipate Operation Comet will bring even more learners from across Michigan and Ontario to Port Huron.”

Robbins agrees. “We have already reserved our dates for 2023, and the kids are excited to go!

To learn more or schedule a group mission, visit Contact the Challenger Learning Center with questions at or (810) 989-5789.


Eastern Michigan Bank
Eastern Michigan Bank is a locally owned community bank headquartered in Croswell, Michigan, with eleven full-service branches in the Thumb and Blue Water communities of Croswell, Deckerville, Fort Gratiot, Lakeport, Lexington, Port Huron, Marysville, Ruth and Sandusky. It provides a full range of commercial and consumer banking services to a wide range of clients and continually demonstrates a strong commitment to the communities it serves, supporting numerous local civic and charitable organizations through corporate donations and sponsorships, as well as through staff volunteer time to local boards, committees and organizations. 

St. Clair County Community College
St. Clair County Community College prepares students for rewarding careers through associate degrees, certificates and transfer pathways with four-year institutions. Founded in 1923, SC4’s commitment to providing access to a college education and meeting community needs is unwavering and contributes greatly to the economic vitality of Michigan and beyond.

Alumni Spotlight: Elizabeth King

Current or most recent title and employer?
Director – Health Officer

How did SC4 help prepare you?
It allowed me to find nursing as a profession while being close to home and my family. I was a mother of two when I graduated with my ADN. I continue to be an advocate for the nursing profession, emphasizing how broad this path is. Passing my NCLEX was a breeze with the preparation I had both academically and clinically at SC4, allowing me to secure a full-time job quickly after graduation.

What do you like most about what you do professionally?
Prevention and wellness as it relates to not just the science of health but to our community and social determinants of health.

Did you transfer on and earn other degrees? If so, what degrees and from where?
Yes. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from U-M Flint.