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Wheeling University’s Challenger Learning Center Helps Girls Develop STEM Skills with “Girls in Space Days

  Tuesday, October 8, 2019 11:35 AM
  WU News

WHEELING, WV – On October 12th, the Challenger Learning Center (CLC) at Wheeling University will host two Girls in Space days with visiting classes from regional schools. In these interactive STEM learning experiences, students work together in teams to learn core scientific principles and develop their skills in data analysis, critical thinking, collaboration, and creative problem-solving.

On October 5th, the CLC hosted a Girls in Space Day for young Girl Scouts. Then, on October 12th, the CLC will host a Girls in Space Day with the underserved population of young girls from the Laughlin Memorial Chapel. Each of these Girls in Space Days will include hands-on science experiments, lessons in computer programming, and an interactive space mission in the CLC’s special Micronaut simulator.

Designed especially for students in kindergarten through third grade, the CLC’s Micronauts area is an immersive simulator that transports students from planet Earth to the International Space Station. Hands-on activities at 12 different stations are each designed to enhance students’ critical thinking skills through exploration and discovery of basic science, mathematics, and language arts concepts. During a typical one-hour mission, students rotate through 3-4 stations where they work as scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. For example, at the nutrition station, students learn the importance of balanced diets as they devise a menu for two astronauts that meets the USDA Food Guide Pyramid guidelines, while students at the underwater glovebox simulate the training that astronauts undergo as they prepare for the gravity-free environment of space.

“Girls in Space Days are designed to make math and science education more fun and engaging for female students, and to introduce them to the practical applications of these concepts in a real-world setting,” says Jackie Shia, Director of the Challenger Learning Center. “By seeing themselves as engineers and mathematicians, we hope to encourage female students to explore their scientific and mathematical interests, and even inspire them to consider pursuing careers in science and engineering.”

The Girls in Space Days at the Challenger Learning Center are sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley Women’s Giving Circle.

About the Challenger Learning Center Since 1994 The Challenger Center for Space Science Education, which serves as a living legacy to the seven astronauts lost on the space shuttle Challenger in 1986, has used science and math to help students build the skills most needed for the 21st century, including decision-making, teamwork, problem solving, and communication.

Since its founding, the CLC has reached more than 350,000 students and adult learners. Each year more than 30,000 students fly missions either on-site in Wheeling or via videoconferencing through the e-Missions™ program. The CLC is one of 48 learning centers worldwide. The CLC has been repeatedly honored at the learning centers’ annual awards conference in three categories: Most Students Served, Most Missions Flown, and Most Teachers Trained. About Wheeling University Founded in 1954, Wheeling University is the only Catholic institution of higher learning in West Virginia. Its mission is to provide a high-quality Catholic education to the men and women of the Ohio Valley region and beyond.