Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

February 10, 2014

Challenger Center lands $10K grant

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Challenger Learning Center of Orleans, Niagara and Erie counties is getting a little financial help.

Last month, the Lockport center was the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the M&T Bank Charitable Foundation. The award was then matched by a donation from a private individual.

The money will be used in the ongoing construction of the center in the Harrison Place building on Walnut Street, specifically the setting up and preparation of the mission control room. This spring, installation of the simulators are expected, said Executive DIrector Kathy Michaels.

Construction of the Challenger Center is continuing, including the preparation of the building for handicap access and the delivery of the space station and mission control simulators.

Alongside programming for schools in the three counties, the Challenger Center of ONE plans to operate a portable planetarium, an afterschool program for local youths and special robotics introduction camps. The center will look to assist the robotics programs at Lockport and Newfane high schools and in girl and boy scouting, Michaels said.

Last month, M&T branch manager Chris Marra and several community members visited the site and saw a demonstration by the Warlocks, the Lockport senior high school robotics team. The high school teams of Lockport, Newfane and Nichols School in Buffalo will practice at the CLC later this month to prepare for a competition in Rochester. 

Michaels said the center expects to have a certificate of occupancy sometime within the next week. The goal is to have the center open for classes by the fall.

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 Building 1 at Harrison Place. The City of Lockport received a $130,000 grant to assist the location of the Challenger Learning Center at Harrison Place.

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 center. Michaels said the group is seeking the rest of the financing.

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.

For those in need of more information or wanting to schedule a visit to the Challenger site, they can contact Michaels at kmmichaels@roadrunner.com or 433-0570.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.