I’m old enough to remember when Space Shuttle launches were a big deal. If the timing was right, a science teacher would procure the “large screen” TV and roll it to the classroom on a creaky metal cart so that we could witness the launch. I was a senior in high school when my AP Biology class gathered round to watch the Challenger head into the great beyond. Only instead of rocketing up leaving a straight, white contrail behind, it split off into a “Y” formation and pieces fell about. “That’s weird.” It took us a minute to figure out what was going on before a wave of sadness overcame us.
I think most Americans in their mid-forties can pinpoint that shocking moment they learned of, or witnessed, the Challenger accident.
The families who lost loved ones in the tragedy were committed to developing a living memorial rather than a static one. As a result, there are now more than 40 Challenger Learning Centers around the world dedicated to educating students about space exploration.
Illinois Challenger Learner Center
I’m not sure how or why the Chicago-area Challenger Learning Center got placed in Woodstock, a suburb about a 1.5-hour drive from Chicago best known for its starring role in the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, but there it is.
The Illinois Challenger Learning Center offers Mission Programs, like Rendezvous with a Comet, for students, scouts, and even corporations. They also host family programs on robotics, rocketry, and other STEM topics, as well as day camps for elementary school students on up.
We’ve gone apple picking up near Woodstock, I’m not sure why we haven’t visited the Challenge Center. I’ll put it on our summer bucket list. Have you been to this or any other Challenger Center?
Thanks to a well-timed press release that just landed in my inbox, I’m sharing a link to other things to see and do if you head to McHenry County to visit the center.