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Schenectady Museum set for lift off

Transformation includes annually rotating exhibits, name change

— Brad Lewis, president of the Challenger Learning Center Board of Trustees, said the new Science Center will be an important community asset for science and technology education and attract visitors to the area.

“This is a huge moment not just for the museum but also for the Capital Region,” Lewis said in a prepared statement. “The leadership and hard work of many people … have brought us to the point of this re-launch.”

The Challenger Learning Center is based on NASA’s space shuttle and space exploration program, which allows students to experience a space-themed science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program. It is aimed at students from fifth to eighth grade.

“Getting students interested and engaged in STEM is critical for our region so that we can continue to supply regional employers with a locally educated and highly motivated workforce,” Charles Dedrick, district superintendent of Capital Region BOCES, said in a statement.

The Challenger program will include a two-month-long classroom study program that will help students apply and enhance their decision-making skills, solve problems and communicate. The culmination of the students’ classroom work is a simulated space flight to launch a space probe into a comet’s tail or a flight to the moon or Mars.

“Bringing this program to the new Science Center will expose thousands of students from across the region to STEM studies each year,” Heidi DeBlock, president of the CLC Board, said.

Construction preparation has already started for the CLC, and it is planned open at the end of this year.

The museum’s partnership with the Exploratorium Network for Exhibit-Based Teaching (ExNET) will provide 3,500 square feet of new interactive exhibits every year, with the older exhibit rotating out.

“Seeing,” the first ExNET exhibit, which focuses on perception and how the eye and brain function together, is planned to open Oct. 6 and last until June 2, 2013.

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