Challenger Center to Receive National Science Board Public Service Award


WASHINGTON (April 11, 2017) – The National Science Board (NSB) has announced that Challenger Center will be honored with its 2017 Public Service Award. This esteemed award honors exemplary public service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering. Challenger Center is the recipient of the group Public Service Award this year.

“The Challenger Center learning system is remarkable in its reach, having touched millions of students and teachers, pre-kindergarten through high school in the United States and abroad, since it opened its first center,” said Vicki Chandler, chair of the NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards. “The fact that their learning experiences remain current—changing and growing with trends and technological advancements—demonstrates their commitment to the mission and to those that they continue to serve. One student at a time, Challenger Center inspires the kind of curiosity that leads to further exploration and success in STEM fields.”

The first Challenger Learning Center opened in Houston, TX in August 1988, less than three years after the Challenger accident that claimed the lives of the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. Firmly committed to the belief that they must carry on the spirit of their loved ones, the families of the Challenger crew came together. They envisioned a place where children, teachers and citizens can touch the future: manipulate equipment, conduct experiments, solve problems, and work together, immersing themselves in space-like surroundings. Their goal for Challenger Center was to spark youth interest and joy in science and engineering, believing that a spark can change lives. With their collective efforts, they created Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

Today, Challenger Center inspires, engages, and prepares students for the future through exciting and innovative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. With a global network of 43 Challenger Learning Centers, the organizations gives more than 250,000 students each year the opportunity to become scientists, engineers, and technologists and to work together on inspiring missions like finding life on Mars and intercepting a Comet. The organization recently piloted a new classroom-based program that takes students on a virtual trip to the bottom of the ocean where they learn about ocean science and preserving ocean species.

Through these hands-on programs, students apply STEM concepts in the context of real-world scenarios; they are exposed to a range of STEM careers; and they practice skills like teamwork, communication, and problem solving.

“Challenger Center is honored to be recognized by the National Science Board as this year’s Public Service award recipient. Our STEM education programs ignite the potential within each student, opening their eyes to STEM careers and sparking a passion for learning that will last a lifetime. We share this award with our Board of Directors, staff and Challenger Learning Centers, along with our donors and partners who have made it possible to reach more than 4.4 million students over the last 30 years.” said Dr. Lance Bush, Challenger Center President and CEO.

The NSB will present Challenger Center with its Public Service Award on May 9th during the National Science Foundation Annual Awards Ceremony held in Washington, D.C. The Board established the award in 1996. The annual award recognizes people and groups (e.g., companies, corporations, organizations) that have increased the public’s understanding of science or engineering. Past award recipients include the American Museum of Natural History, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, PBS television series NOVA, The Expanding Your Horizons Network, and last year, the Sea Education Association (SEA).

About the National Science Board
Jointly, the National Science Board and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Director—the ex-officio 25th member—pursue the goals and function of the Foundation. NSB establishes NSF policies within the framework of applicable national policies set forth by the President and Congress. NSB identifies issues critical to NSF’s future, approves the agency’s strategic budget directions and the annual budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget, and new major programs and awards. The NSB also provides the President and Congress with a biennial report on U.S. progress in science and technology, providing comparisons to other nations in the areas of research and development, STEM education, and workforce training.

The President appoints Board members for six-year terms and may reappoint members for a second term. Members are drawn primarily from universities and industry and selected for their eminence in research, education, and records of distinguished service. Collectively, the Board represents a variety of science and engineering disciplines and regions across the United States.

About Challenger Center
As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center and its network of Challenger Learning Centers provide more than 250,000 students annually with experiential education programs to engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. Connect on Facebook @ChallengerCtr and Twitter @ChallengerCtr.