This past spring, Jefferson County Public Schools abruptly declared the Challenger Learning Center at the Academy @ Shawnee was “on hold” due to funding issues.
That period of uncertainty regarding the center’s future is over thanks to the Kentucky Science Center, which is adding the program to its roster of classes and labs. IL learned of this development at Tuesday’s Leadership Louisville luncheon, where a Science Center representative said the contract had “just been signed.”
The Challenger Learning Center, one of around 40 internationally, had an annual operating budget of around $250,000 and had just undergone a $1.2 million renovation when it ceased operation at Shawnee. The program was supposed to fund itself through grants, but it usually only raised 20 percent of what was needed annually.
Three employees staffed the space education center and simulator; JCPS reassigned one and laid off two others.
According to an information sheet a Kentucky Science Center employee was handing out during Tuesday’s luncheon, students from grades K – 12 can continue to experience hands-on mission simulations and programs that focus on science, technology and math. There will be a pre-K program for little space explorers called “Micronauts.”
As part of the program, students use role-playing to simulate space missions to the moon, Mars or a comet. Teams take on various jobs that astronauts, scientists and engineers hold during space missions.
Prior to attending the Challenger Center, teachers are given assignments for their students to help prepare them for the mission. All lessons are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards for content, concepts and practices.
Field trips will run between $200 – $400 and can include up to 30 kids. Sessions at the center take about two hours.
Programs will be offered from Oct. 5 until June 3, 2016.
We contacted the Kentucky Science Center for more details on funding and staffing, but they declined comment until a later date. We’ll have those details for you soon.