HomeArticlesChallenger Space Center moving into Paradise Valley school district

Challenger Space Center moving into Paradise Valley school district

Challenger Space Camp
Campers at Challenger Space Center work on a robot.

Having closed its Peoria location in August, Challenger Space Center will reopen in a former elementary school in the Paradise Valley Unified School District, officials announced this week.

The center — created by funds from the surviving families of the crew of the Challenger Space Shuttle — will move to 17835 N. 44th Street in north Phoenix. The Challenger Space Center will bring its affiliations with NASA, Challenger National Learning Centers and the Smithsonian to its new partnership with the Paradise Valley school district.

At this new location — an opening date for which has not been announced — the space center will resume many of its popular activities, including Family Stargazing Nights, Scouting events and Homeschool Days. It also plans to offer new coding and robotics skills-development classes. Challenger Space Center also hosts a highly ranked community robotics team.

“We have an 18-year history of advocating for and providing quality STEM education,” Bob Rasmussen, a Challenger Space Center board member, said in a statement. “We’ve worked with 32 school districts and many other organizations to offer our simulated space missions, STEM workshops and programs to continue to advance education in Arizona.”

Challenger Space Center opened in Peoria in 2000 and closed on Aug. 5, 2018, after the building was sold to the Peoria Unified School district. The nonprofit center is asking the public for donations to help with the move. The new building will need special ramps and lifts to allow access to a simulated space experience. About $200,000 is needed to retrofit the building and to move and display years of artifacts and memorabilia.

The collaboration will help grow the Paradise Valley district’s STEAM and STEM offerings, according to James P. Lee, Ed.D., superintendent of PVSchools. “We plan to grow the STEAM education program that provides important life skills in addition to a wealth of knowledge and opportunities for innovation and exploration,” he said in a statement.

Challenger Space Center is affiliated with Challenger National, created by the surviving families of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster to create a living tribute by encouraging students to learn about the universe. (The shuttle exploded minutes after launching on Jan. 28, 1986.) There are more than 40 such centers throughout the world.

The Paradise Valley district serves more than 31,000 elementary, middle and high school students in 44 schools in northeast Phoenix and Scottsdale. The district extends from Seventh Avenue to Pima Road and Northern Avenue to Jomax Road.

For more information or to donate, visit azchallenger.org



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