Inspiration is a key component at Challenger Learning Center of Aurora University in Woodstock, Illinois.

Experiment, Challenger Learning Center of Aurora University, Woodstock, Ill.
[/media-credit] Experiment, Challenger Learning Center of Aurora University, Woodstock, Ill.

“Our vision is to inspire the spirit of discovery in our future scientists, leaders and visionaries to improve global commitment to innovation and cooperation,” said Brigitte Redman, the center’s director. “All of our hands-on STEM activities open children’s eyes, minds and hearts to the exciting world of science, technology, engineering and math.”

During the first part of a daylong visit, groups experience the simulation space mission called Expedition Mars. Students are assigned jobs on teams like the Life Support Team and Rover Team. Their goals are to keep the crew safe and search for signs of life and water on Mars. They do this by using real-world science and problem solving as they work together on their teams in the Mars Transport Vehicle and Mars Control.

The second half of the day is a visit to the Digital Starlab to learn about the universe. Students work with MOSS and Cubelet Robotic systems.

Redman noted the center is not open to the public, as it is not a traditional museum. Teachers must reserve their trip dates in advance by calling or contacting the center via email.

The Challenger Learning Center in Woodstock is just a small part of the Challenger network of more than 40 centers around the world. Families involved in the 1986 Challenger shuttle tragedy created the network to honor the crew of flight STS-51-L.

For more information, call 815-338-7722 or visit