Medina Journal-Register — LOCKPORT — The first construction work to build out the Challenger Center of ONE will begin next week.
The work, removal of interior walls and flooring in the lower level of Building 1 at Harrison Place, will be paid for by a newly awarded $13,000 grant from the Grigg-Lewis Foundation. A cash match is coming from a $130,000 grant that the City of Lockport previously received to assist location of the Challenger Learning Center at Harrison Place.
According to Kathy Michaels, executive director of the Challenger Learning Center of Orleans-Niagara-Erie counties, facility buildout should be completed by next spring. The CLC board signed a 10-year lease for space at Harrison Place in late August and has continued fundraising for the last $150,000 that it will take to establish and equip the CLC.
Challenger Learning Centers are privately run, not-for-profit entities that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education of K-through-12th-grade students, particularly middle school students, by running simulated space missions.
Working with school districts in the CLC’s licensed area, center staff train teachers to prepare their classes to carry out a “mission” at the center using a life-sized space station and mission simulators.
Presently, 39 CLCs are operated in the United States, all with permission from the national Challenger Center for Space Science Education, a foundation created in memory of space travelers, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe who was killed when the Challenger shuttle exploded in 1986. In Western New York, the closest Challenger centers currently are in Rochester and Allegany.
The first missions at the CLC of ONE could be carried out in the 2014 fall semester, after summertime teacher training, according to Michaels.
Alongside programming for schools in the three counties, the center plans to operate a portable planetarium, an afterschool program for local youths and special robotics introduction camps, Michaels said.
While Building 1 is being renovated, potential CLC volunteers and donors are welcome to tour the site and receive informational presentations. To arrange a tour or presentation, call Michaels at (716) 208-2404.
A CLC of ONE membership-fund drive is ongoing. The first 400 supporters to sign up as “lunar level” members, for $25, will be entered in its 2013 vacation raffle. The prize is one week of accommodations at any Wyndham resort in the continental United States, the Caribbean or Mexico. The drawing will take place Dec. 31.
For more information, visit CLCLockport.org, go to the center’s Facebook page or write to CLC of ONE, 210 Walnut St., Lockport, NY 14094.