The Challenger Center Hawaii welcomed our HTA Oahu 6th graders into their facility for a once in a lifetime experience of hands-on collaborative space exploration. Per the Challenger Center Hawaii’s website, they describe this experience as a “fully-integrated Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) program based on core concepts that enhance their aptitude in a wide variety of foundational life skills, including cooperative reasoning, effective communication, and confidence under pressure.”
Students were each assigned jobs that were imperative to the success of the mission. Each student embraced his or her role and had responsibilities in both the Mission Control and the Space Station of the Challenger Center. After entering the airlock chamber, the students were so shocked to see such an impressive Space Station. Here, they applied skills that they’ve learned the classroom in order to gather data, conduct experiments and ensure the safety of their fellow astronauts. Students in Mission Control analyzed data and helped to troubleshoot problems and emergency situations aboard the Space Center through creative problem-solving and collaboration. Following strict protocols, students were given tasks to complete during their mission, with the ultimate goal finding Comet Halley’s location and assembling a probe to send through its tail in order to collect samples from space.
“The Challenger Center Hawaii experience represents the very best of learning because it brings out the very best of our kids,” says Mrs. Terhune. She goes on to explain, “as a teacher, sure, I love that the curriculum is rigorous. The content lessons blend physical science, space investigation, scientific discovery and team collaboration - but its collaborative, inquiry-based approach makes all the difference. I appreciate that, as much as students learn, they always walk away eager - and empowered - to learn more. The culminating space station simulation honors the importance of each individual and further inspires each person to be a better member of a team...no matter what the mission. Whenever I ask the kids what they enjoy, however, their answer is always much more complicated: We love it because it’s FUN.”
And, yes, it is fun. As learning should be, since, after all, the very best learning always is fun.
Kristen Wolf, Director of Communications
Maya Terhune, 6th Grade Teacher