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School Groups at the Nierman Challenger Learning Center


The Nierman Challenger Learning Center programs send students ages 8 and up to space using a realistic mock-up of a Mission Control center and a futuristic Space Station. The Fleet Science Center Flight Directors train crew members to work as a team, carry out the operations necessary for a successful mission, and collect valuable scientific data. Choose from three scenarios that meet state standards for grades 3-12. A one-hour visit to the exhibit galleries is included in the cost of the mission.


In addition to inspiring young audiences to pursue careers in science and technology and increasing the public's general scientific literacy, taking active part in the Nierman Challenger Learning Center programs will hone decision-making, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills.


Challenger Learning Center missions take place on weekdays for school groups anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Programs are 1.5 hours long, but must be scheduled in 2-hour blocks to allow for staff setup and breakdown times.

Programs Schedule

The 3rd and 4th Grade Missions are available every month.  For 5th grade and up, missions alternate as follows:

Month Available Programs
January Voyage to Mars  
February Return to the Moon  
March Voyage to Mars  
April Return to the Moon  
May Voyage to Mars  
June Return to the Moon  
July Voyage to Mars  
August Return to the Moon  
September Voyage to Mars  
October Return to the Moon  
November Voyage to Mars  
December Return to the Moon  


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


$425.00 per mission for 25 students or less (includes Teacher Prep training and materials)

Additional student fee: $6. Maximum of 36 students.

Program Descriptions

3rd Grade Mission

1.5 hours

Join our Flight Directors for a unique mission simulation. Third Grade Missions include an excursion on the International Space Station and an exploration of physical science and technology. As part of an elite team of scientists, engineers & mathematicians third-grade students learn about the electromagnetic spectrum and how best to protect our astronauts from the devastating effects of radiation in space. 

4th Grade Mission

1.5 hours

Our Flight Directors will lead you through a special mission simulation. Fourth Grade Missions include an excursion on the International Space Station and an exploration of physical science and technology. As part of an elite team of scientists, engineers & mathematicians fourth-grade students learn about the roles of electromagnets in engineering and space exploration.

Book your mission today and explore the wonders of our universe!

Return to the Moon

Grades 5 and up
1.5 hours

The year is 2020, and for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972, your crew of astronauts is traveling 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, your group will:

  • Launch a probe to deliver equipment to the Moon’s surface
  • Analyze data to select a landing site for the S.S Phoenix Spacecraft
  • Calculate the thrust needed to leave Earth’s orbit and enter lunar orbit
  • Understand the gravitational attraction of the Moon to Earth
  • Conduct investigations and make observations using scientific tools
  • Understand lunar topography

Book your mission today and learn more about the mysteries of Earth's closest neighbor.

Voyage to Mars

Grades 5 and up
1.5 hours

Voyage to Mars in the year 2076 to replace a crew working at Chryse Station – a permanent research base on the Martian surface. In addition to continuing research of the exciting planet, students calculate trajectories for entering and exiting Martian orbit and launch two probes to the Martian moons of Phobos and Deimos. During the course of their mission students will view stunning video images of some of the more famous geographic features of Mars. Students will also:

  • Weigh components needed to build a probe and calculate its mass
  • Record the vital signs of other astronauts on board the space craft
  • Determine the nutritional value of foods available on the space craft
  • Explore the planetary geology of Mars and its fascinating features
  • Understand theories of the existence on the Martian moons
  • Compare and contrast the location of Earth and Mars

Book your mission today to learn more about the mysterious red planet.

Requirements for Attending

Teacher Prep (Required)

Teachers 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, to help teachers maximize the learning experience for their students during the mission and to provide teachers with resources for incorporating the mission into their curriculum. Educational materials will be provided. Teacher preps are held the second Wednesday of the month from 3:30 — 5:00p.m. and the second Saturday of the month from 10:00 — 11:30 a.m.

Resources for Your Classroom