Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

March 2, 2014

Shooting for the moon

Challenger Center receives simulators, sees cut in expenses

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It’s been quite a journey to get to this point and there is still a way to go. But, there is progress being made with the Challenger Learning Center of Orleans, Niagara and Erie counties, as the Washburn Street facility received both of its simulators last week.

Challenger Learning Centers are privately run, not-for-profit entities that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education of kindergarten-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. Four major storage units came by Thursday to drop off the equipment for the simulators, which installation of may take up to a month.

Kathy Michaels, Challenger Learning Center of ONE executive director, said support has come from practically everywhere. The city and Harrison Place have been great, she said. Volunteers have chipped in considerably. Service Solutions is the contractor and Carpet Collection supplied the carpets. 

But what’s really been helpful is the center’s expenses have come down from the $900,000 that was estimated in the fall. Some of that assistance came from out of town.

A big cut in the Challenger Center’s expense came when the Lockport center accepted some equipment from a now-closed Challenger Center from Birmingham, Ala. The move saved $500,000.

“We didn’t need a sprinkler system, because nothing here will burn. All of the walls are concrete, the ceiling is concrete and the floors are concrete,” Michaels said. “We saved $50,000 by just not doing the sprinkler system.”

The total cost is down to about $600,000.

“We need a little bit more help,” Michaels said.

Michaels said the floors were jackhammered and a special handicap accessible ramp is being put in. Extensive electrical and construction work is ongoing, while the set up of the simulators will be done by spring.

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