News from the Aurora University community

Challenger Learning Center marks 15th anniversary with stellar recognition

Posted by on September 1, 2016

AURORA, Ill. — The Challenger Learning Center (CLC) of Aurora University in Woodstock, was recently recognized for successfully completing more simulated space missions during the 2015–2016 school year than its sister Challenger Centers around the world.

Last year, student astronauts, engineers and flight crews from throughout Chicagoland and southern Wisconsin — mostly fifth- and sixth-graders — completed 299 missions to the International Space Station, Mars and even to passing comets, each time bringing home new knowledge and enthusiasm about space, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Rebecca Dolmon, lead flight director at CLC, was present for just about every one of those missions. “We usually have two flights a day, every school day, from September through May,” she said, estimating that more than 10,000 students participate in the programs each year.

Founded in 2001 and celebrating its 15th anniversary in September, the CLC at Woodstock is one of 43 similar learning centers across the United States and as far away as Canada, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Aurora University acquired the Woodstock CLC in 2015.

The CLC promotes science education and space exploration among children as a way of honoring the memories of the astronauts killed when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff on Jan. 28, 1986.

The CLC’s organizing body, the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, made the announcement at its annual meeting in Framingham, Massachusetts, on Aug. 10. Most Challenger Centers are affiliated with colleges or universities, science centers or municipalities. CLC won in the category for university-affiliated centers.

“Building With Biology” Family Science Night Sept. 12 at Challenger Learning Center

In addition to simulated space missions, the CLC offers STEM-related summer camps and institutes, as well as a Family Science Night each month throughout the school year. On the evening of Friday, Sept. 16, the Challenger Learning Center of Aurora University in Woodstock, will host its first Family Science Night of the new school year. “Building With Biology” will take K–4 students and their parents behind scenes of scientific discovery with hands-on workshops that include extracting real DNA from a strawberry, examining specimens under a microscope and making a take-home “garden in a glove.”

Admission is limited, and preregistration is required. The cost is $17 per participant. An adult must accompany children. Pizza is provided at the beginning of the two-hour program, which starts at 6 p.m. Register for the event by calling 815-338-7722. Payment is due upon registration. The Challenger Learning Center of Aurora University is located in downtown Woodstock at 222 E. Church St., across from the train station. For more information, please visit

Media Contact

Deborah Maue
University Communications