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National Conference Includes Trip to MathScience Innovation Center

The MathScience Innovation Center (MSiC) recently welcomed forty Challenger Learning Center Directors from across the United States and Canada. These Directors, who are responsible for the operation of their own Challenger Learning Centers, spent the day at MSiC exploring a new learning simulation platform. The new platform will further enhance the Challenger Learning Center experience through cloud-based, interactive scenarios which will extend the learning opportunities for students and teachers.

This fieldtrip was part of the kickoff event for the 2013 Challenger Center annual conference in Washington, D.C. Watch the video below by WCVE Public Radio’s John Ogle to learn more about our local Challenger Learning Center.

The MSiC houses the 5th oldest continually operating Challenger Learning Center-CLC (opened in 1990 and the only one in Virginia), licensed under the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. At the MathScience Innovation Center, our Challenger Learning Center is a learning lab comprised of an interactive computerized simulator for a voyage to Mars. The MSiC CLC is complete with a briefing area, a Mission Control room patterned after the NASA Johnson Space Center and a Space Station. Here at the MathScience Innovation Center, we run a mission to Mars for over 4,000 students annually.

During a 2-3 hour mission, students work in aeronautic, scientific and engineering stations on both the Mission Control and Space Craft side of the Challenger Learning Center. Working in teams, students send data between Mission Control and the Spacecraft throughout the mission. Using this data, students then perform data analysis, solve problems and make decisions that impact the mission itself. Teams include medical, isolation chamber, environmental, geologic, navigation, data, probe and communication teams, as well as teams to observe the sun, predict solar storms, and broadcast space weather warnings.Each team receives a pre and post-flight briefing with MSiC educators in which they share information and synthesize their learning.

The Challenger Learning Center Richmond is one of ten thematic classrooms located at the MathScience Innovation Center and it is part of a growing network of more than forty Learning Centers located throughout the world. CLC-Richmond is endorsed by the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, an international, not-for-profit education organization founded in April 1986 by the families of the astronauts tragically lost during the Challenger space shuttle mission.

The MSiC is one of the oldest examples of regional partnerships in the metro Richmond area, working with more than 170,000 students and 5,000 teachers in 13 school divisions annually. We offer a variety of student (including family) and professional development programs for K-12. Outside groups, including corporate team building groups (for up to 30 people) can book a two-hour mission in our Challenger Learning Center for a small fee.

For more information on the MathScience Innovation Center and our Challenger Learning Center Richmond, please see our website at

Article by Dr. Hollee Freeman, Executive Director of the MathScience Innovation Center

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