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 challenger.sc4.edu/visit/. Contact the Challenger Learning Center with questions at email@example.com 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.