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Nierman Challenger Learning Center

School Programs bookings for the 2014-15 school year begin on July 25, 2014.

Take the ultimate field trip!

Nierman Challenger Learning CenterCheck out our newly updated 21st-century Nierman Challenger Learning Center. With fresh graphics, state-of-the-art displays, and flexible mission scenarios, our Challenger experience is even better than ever! The realistic Mission Control mock-up and 21st century Space Station introduce students to the teamwork, technology and drama involved in space travel. All missions meet State Standards and State Framework for grades 3–12.


Monday – Friday

Programs are 1.5 hours in length and are scheduled in two-hour blocks to allow for setup and breakdown times.


Making Reservations: We offer 2 ways to place your reservation request:


$425 per mission

No charge for teacher prep and materials

Prices subject to change without notice. Gallery admission included. Minimum of 16 students. Maximum of 36 students.

Moon missions are available February, April, June, August, October and December.

Mars missions are available January, March, May, July, September and November.

Space Station

Nierman Challenger Learning CenterClosely mirroring the work of astronauts in orbit, your astronaut team will perform science experiments onboard our futuristic space station simulator and communicate the results to their colleagues in the mission control simulator. Astronauts may monitor and test life support systems, work in the clean room to build and launch a scientific space probe, or use the isolation station robots to analyze extraterrestrial samples.

Mission Control

Our realistic, high-tech mission control simulator allows students to use computer consoles and video screens to monitor and direct a simulated space mission. While conducting research relevant to their mission scenario, students build effective communication, coordination, and decision-making skills.

Challenger Mission Scenarios

Grades 3 & 4


Third and fourth grade students join our flight directors for a unique mission simulation! Our Micronauts program includes a one-hour Mini Discovery Mission and a one-hour extra venue activity. Third-grade students learn about the electromagnetic spectrum and how best to protect our astronauts from the devastating effects of radiation in space, and fourth-grade students learn about the roles of electromagnets in engineering and space exploration. On each Mini Discovery Mission, young astronauts are part of an elite team of scientists, engineers and mathematicians on the International Space Station. Traveling 230 miles above the Earth’s surface, they conduct up to 10 different hands-on activities, including testing the insulating properties of materials, classifying rocks, investigating objects under a microscope and exploring the planets in our solar system.

Return To The Moon

(Grades 5 and up)

Return to the MoonThe year is 2020. For the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972, a crew of astronauts is returning to the Moon. Their goals are to establish a permanent base to make further lunar observations, study the feasibility of creating a self-sustaining lunar settlement, and serve as a stepping stone for future manned planetary exploration. Navigating their way into lunar orbit, students launch a probe and analyze a variety of data to select a landing site for the S.S. Phoenix spacecraft.

Voyage To Mars

(Grades 5 and up)

Voyage to MarsVoyage to Mars in the year 2076 to replace a crew stationed on the Martian surface at Chryse Station—a permanent research base. In addition to continuing research, the students will calculate trajectories for entering and exiting Martian orbit and launch two probes to the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. Stunning video images narrated by the Challenger flight staff teach students some amazing facts about the fascinating geographic features of Mars.

How to Reserve your Challenger Mission

  • Carefully read the information about the exhibit galleries and the Nierman Challenger Learning Center
  • Choose a mission scenario and a date and time, along with alternate dates.
  • Schedule a teacher prep at least one month before your visit. These are available on the second Wednesday and Saturday of each month.

Teacher Prep


Teachers new to the Challenger Learning Center are required to attend a Teacher Prep training session—preferably at least one month prior to their students’ mission. The objectives of the Teacher Prep are to familiarize teachers with Challenger Learning Center procedures, help teachers maximize the learning experience for their students during the mission, and provide teachers with resources for incorporating the mission into their curriculum. Educational materials will be provided. Teacher prep must be repeated every two years.