BANGOR – Since 2004, the Challenger Learning Center of Maine has been providing simulated space exploration missions to get students throughout the state excited about math and science.
Now the Bangor center is looking for help so it can continue to raise aspirations for both middle and high school students and to improve their educational achievement as well as their team building, communication and problem-solving skills.
Last week, the center launched a fundraiser, sending requests for donations to 24,000 businesses and individuals throughout Maine and beyond in hopes of raising $100,000, Robin Kennedy, lead flight director, said Tuesday.
The money will be used to help the center reduce the debt on its Venture Way facility; provide hands-on, engaging ideas for classroom activities through teacher development programs; and subsidize school participation through the Reaching for the Stars Scholarship Fund.
“The goal is to keep costs down for schools,” Kennedy said.
Last year, 7,000 people visited the center for different types of programs and classes, she said.
“We can do much more,” she added.
Tad Johnston, math and science specialist for the Maine Department of Education, said the center is a boon for teachers and students alike.
“It provides a problem solving environment and a teamwork development environment that is unique in the state,” he said.
After opening 21/2 years ago offering simulated missions for middle school pupils, the center recently began providing missions for high school students.
“We realized it fit well with the Maine Learning Results for high school,” Kennedy said, referring to the state’s academic standards.
During the next two months, the center plans to offer after-school programs in which pupils may participate in competitions to win a trip to Chantilly, Va., for the National Space Day Celebration next May.
From Nov. 27 to 30, third- and fourth-graders will be asked to create a tasty, nutritious meal in a leak-proof, spill-proof package that can be easily eaten in space.
And from Dec. 4 to 7, fifth- and sixth-graders will be asked to create exercise equipment for astronauts to maintain bone and muscle tone while in space.
Also offered are camps for the summer and for school vacations; programs for Boy and Girl Scouts to earn badges; and missions for businesses and the public.
The center is always seeking to add new programs, Kennedy said. “We really try to keep updated and keep all our classes educational and fun and exciting for kids and teachers in the state of Maine,” she said.
Also housed in the center is the NASA Educational Resource Center which provides learning materials free of charge so teachers across the state can enhance their math and science curriculum.
“The center is a great resource for school districts,” Johnston said.
For more information, call 990-2900 or log on to www.clcofme.org.