Challenging Young Minds to Explore Countdown Begins to Opening of Woodstock Space and Science Education Center for Students

By Williams, Amy E. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 19, 2001 | Go to article overview

Challenging Young Minds to Explore Countdown Begins to Opening of Woodstock Space and Science Education Center for Students


Williams, Amy E., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Amy E. Williams Daily Herald Staff Writer

Scott Powell remembers vividly the moment he heard the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded.

It was 1986 and Powell was in fifth grade. The news that the shuttle, which was carrying so much hope for space exploration and education had exploded, devastated Powell and his classmates.

His interest in that tragic mission eventually led the 25-year- old to pursue his new position as lead flight director with the soon-to-open Challenger Learning Center in Woodstock.

"I remember that day very well," Powell said. "Working for the Challenger Learning Center was the perfect way of then encompassing my life goal to affect students in a positive way."

Powell, who was one of eight applicants for the Woodstock job, comes from a Challenger Learning Center in Birmingham, Ala., where he worked as a flight director for about three years.

While that center was established when Powell started, the Woodstock center is starting from scratch. Workers are now renovating a downtown building, turning it into a space shuttle and mission control center.

They are expected to finish the renovations on the $1.2 million center in late May and open shortly after for local school children and adults.

The Woodstock center will be one of 40 across the county and the first in Illinois. The center program was founded by the family of the seven astronauts who died in the 1986 explosion and provides interactive space and science education programs.

Through school programs, the center will target fifth-graders for educational missions. But it also will have programs for all grades of students.

Those embarking on missions at the center will be split into two groups - one goes into the mission control center on Earth, the other into the space station.

The students will then take on different roles, from manning a medical station to being an astronaut. They can use joy sticks to control robotic arms and do PH tests of water. The students will then switch places, through the use of a fog-lit transporter, so they can each experience space or mission control. …

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