Medina students have ‘out of this world’ learning experience at Challenger Center

Posted 19 December 2022 at 10:30 am

Photos courtesy of Medina Central School: (Left) Marcel Lamar gets suited up at the Challenger Learning Center. (Right) Ty’Sharri Crossley learns at the Challenger Learning Center.

Press Release, Medina Central School

MEDINA – Within the Medina school district, students at Oak Orchard Primary School and Clifford Wise Intermediate School have been learning about different aspects of Earth and its relationship with the Solar System.

To coincide with their learning, we wanted our students to experience something “out of this world” and that’s where the Challenger Learning Center (CLC) of Lockport played a crucial role.  Mr. Jason Klein (Technology Integrator) and Mrs. Julie Granchelli (Science teacher) wrote a grant, which was funded by BOCES, to work with the CLC of Lockport.

The mission of the CLC is to engage students and teachers in dynamic, hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities that strengthen knowledge in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), inspire students to pursue careers in these fields, and provide an outlet to learn and apply important life skills. “Real-world experiences like these allow students to make deep connections to their learning in class,” said Mr. Klein. “Students get hands-on opportunities to experience things that they might not normally have the ability to do in class.  Additionally, since Covid, students have missed out on some great field trips and learning opportunities, so this was a great way to bring these necessary experiences back into the district.”

Hendrix Jones and Ethan Mulcahy at the control board at the Challenger Learning Center.

The students at Oak Orchard Primary School were able to journey through the universe in a portable, inflatable planetarium this week. The “little astronomers” had an introduction to the solar system in their Science Class, where they were able to make models and learn about the motion of the Earth, moon, and planets.

Pre-K to Grade 3 students entered the planetarium to experience a “star filled” sky. Krissy Reetz and Michael Schian, from the CLC, used a laser pointer to guide students through the solar system. Students learned to identify stars, planets, and constellations.

“The mobile planetarium is such a wonderful way to immerse our youngest students in the study of stars, planets, and constellations and support Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning at Oak Orchard,” said Ms. Granchelli.

Fifth graders at Clifford Wise Intermediate School have been studying the Solar System and aerospace engineering. To bring their learning to life, fifth grade classes went on a field trip to the CLC of Lockport, where students participated in a space mission.

Students assumed the role of a mission specialist operating a space station and mission control.  They had to work together to keep the crew “safe” while facing various problems and challenges.

Class Photo: In front from left include Isaac Foss, Jasper Reigle-Miller, Mikah MacDonald, Isaias Sanchez-Cabrera, Scarlett Guild and Lucy Trapasso in front of the planetarium. In back: Mrs. Borsching, Mrs. Granchelli, Krissy Reetz and Jason Klein.

Through a combination of standard-aligned STEM content, immersive technology, real science data and hands-on activities, students were engaged in a high-tech simulation environment.  In addition to the space missions, students got to experience the night sky in the CLC’s planetarium.

The planetarium system allowed students to “fly” to all the planets, their moons, and dwarf planets. The planetarium made celestial bodies appear and move realistically to simulate the complex motions of the heavens. Students learned how to identify all the planets of our solar system in dramatic flights up close to each world.

Students learned about Greek mythological (or other cultural sky stories) characters and saw how these heroes of the past can be found in the stars.  Students also witnessed the night sky in different seasons and from different global perspectives.