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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

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

Program Descriptions


Grades 3-4
1.5 hours

Join our Flight Directors for a unique mission simulation. Each Micronauts program includes a 40 minute Mini Discovery Mission and a 40 minute Extra "Venue" Activity that addresses the themes of physical science and technology. On each Mini Discovery Mission, young astronauts are part of an elite team of scientists, engineers & 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
  • Exploring the planets in our solar system
  • Measuring mass and volume & identify solids and liquids
  • Learning how the sun’s energy powers the ISS
  • Investigating sound waves
  • Making predictions about magnetism
  • Sorting and identifying types of rocks
  • Exploring the visible light spectrum

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