Students take flight with Challenger Learning Center of Alaska

Community News

Kenai, Alaska, Foundation
Students work at the Life Support Station within the Space Shuttle during a Mission to Mars.
Students work at the Life Support Station within the Space Shuttle during a Mission to Mars. They test and monitor the life support system of the shuttle like temperature, air pressure, and oxygen.
  • Students in 5th and 6th grades at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District participate in hands-on activities in the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska.
  • The Challenger Learning Center is using a grant from Marathon Petroleum’s Kenai refinery to fund 25 classes to take part in its simulated space missions.
  • The center offers in-person and virtual classes for children and adults.

The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska is providing out-of-this-world adventures to students in Alaska as part of its space mission simulations. The center aims to inspire students to look beyond the ordinary, image the unattainable and answer those seemingly impossible questions through the pursuit of higher education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Marathon Petroleum’s Kenai refinery provided a grant to fund 25 classes for Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s 5th and 6th grade students, part of a long partnership with the Challenger Learning Center. Students put their formal education to the test on simulated space missions in the mission control room designed after NASA Johnson Space Center and an orbiting space station.

“In order to thrive and grow, students need to be given the opportunities for collaboration, teamwork and hands-on activities,” said Marnie Olcott, CEO of the Challenger Learning Center. “These mission simulations allow them to work through challenges and solve problems using STEM disciplines.”

The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska offers in-person and virtual lessons for individuals, classes and adults.

The Space Station side of the simulator.
In the Introduction to Robotics and Coding summer camp, students engineer a cart and buggy to attach to their Sphero robot. They then test the ability of the Sphero to drive and how much weight it can pull. Once they get all the factors correct, they code their bots to move their hull a certain distance.
During a rocketry STEM workshop, two boys engineer a way for their paperclip astronauts to go up the string in a cup. Using the principles of gravity, thrust and Newton’s law, they must only use the materials supplied to support and lift their astronauts straight up.