Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Part of the center will look like Mission Control as it is portrayed often in movies. Another section will be a space station, which will be set up over the next couple of months. All of the pieces of the space station have been received. A temporary certificate of occupancy should be received soon.
The center is fundraising, but it has made progress on the revenue side as well.
In October, the Challenger Center received a $13,000 grant from the Grigg-Lewis Foundation for the removal of interior walls and flooring in the lower level of the former Building 1 at Harrison Place. Also, the City of Lockport received a $130,000 grant to assist with the moving in of the center.
In January, the Challenger Center received a $10,000 grant from the M&T Bank Charitable Foundation, which was then matched by a donation from a private individual.
With a strong emphasis on STEM teaching, the Challenger Center program has a major focus on education. As a result, the center works closely with schools, something that’ll happen with the Lockport facility as well. The center has already hosted high school robotics teams from Lockport and Newfane, as well as a junior Lego team. The Boy and Girl Scouts will also be involved with the Challenger Center.
The support from the local community, especially from the city and local educators, has been tremendous, said Martin Schwartz, director of community relations for the national Challenger Center organization.
“It’s going extremely well,” he said. “This is about the normal timeframe for a center... we are very pleased.”
Schwartz, who has seen a number of centers open across the country, said the Lockport-based center can expect to see 5,000 to 6,000 students a year from as far as two hours away from the city. Participating teachers are given classroom materials before and after a visit to the Challenger Center.