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Inspiring. Exploring. Learning.  It's our mission.


The mission of the Challenger Learning Center is to inspire generations to accomplish things that may at first appear impossible.

Our primary goals include:

  • provide hands-on, real world interactive educational experiences to students of all ages throughout central Illinois.
  • conduct simulated missions for school groups as a culminating experience to an interdisciplinary classroom curriculum emphasizing Common Core Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and 21st Century Learning Skills.
  • improve the quality of Illinois education by providing state-of-the-art training and professional development opportunities and curriculum resources for classroom teachers.
  • increase student interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers by raising awareness of opportunities in those fields.


The Challenger Learning Center is preparing to celebrate its 10th anniversary this February 2014.  With this in mind, we invite K-8 students and their schools to participate in the CLC 10th Anniversary Poster Contest. Click the links below to download guidelines, entry form and rubric. While the rubric may be utilized in the classroom, this rubric will also be used by our panel of judges when evaluating the posters.

Due to inclement weather and school cancellations, the poster contest deadline has been extended. Posters should be postmarked by or delivered to the Challenger Learning Center by February 3, 2014.  After receiving the entries, the CLC will select a First, Second, and Third Place winning poster.  Prizes are as follows:

  • 1st Place: Visit to classroom by a NASA Astronaut on Friday, February 7, 2014 and one free mission at the Challenger Learning Center
  • 2nd Place:  One free mission at the Challenger Learning Center
  • 3rd Place:  50% off one mission at the Challenger Learning Center

The winners will be notified on February 4, 2014.  The students submitting the winning posters will be invited to the award ceremony during the CLC public event on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 6:30pm. 

If you have any questions regarding the poster contest, please contact Stacey Shrewsbury at (309) 268-8701 or Stacey.shrewsbury@heartland.edu.


This year the Challenger Learning Center celebrates 10 years of inspiring, exploring and learning in Central Illinois.  A NASA astronaut will present a 60 minute lecture and cover topics of space exploration (private and commercial) and share many of his/her experiences with NASA.  This exciting presentation will be followed by Q&A time during which you can ask the astronaut your questions about space exploration.  There will be a short meet & greet before the event so be sure to bring your camera for pictures.  Meet and greet will run from 5:30-6:30pm with the presentation starting promptly at 6:30pm.  Don’t miss out on this very unique opportunity to hear from one of NASA’s astronauts. 

To register call 309.268.8160, or go online at HCC Community Education website.

Friday, February 7, 2014/ 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Free (Registration strongly encouraged.)

Course Code 2995


Come hear amateur comedians attempt to tickle your funny bone as you support the CLC scholarship fund. Food, Cash Bar, Silent Auction and Crowd Favorite Contest to take place. Online and phone orders for this event will close at 2:00pm on February 28, 2014. Online and phone orders for this event have closed. Tickets available for $25 at the door.

Friday, February 28, 2014/ 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. / $20 per person or $25 per person at the door


The NGSS are based on a framework that articulates a broad set of expectations for students in science, focusing on the development of scientifically literate students. It is no longer a matter of what students know, but what they are able to do. As a result, NGSS are built around these three dimensions: Scientific and engineering practices; Crosscutting concepts that unify the study of science and engineering through their applications across fields; and Core ideas in four disciplinary areas: physical sciences, life sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science.

By focusing on a limited number of disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts, students are provided opportunities to build on and revise their knowledge and integrate their knowledge and ability with practices that engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. To help educators prepare for the NGSS, links regarding the Framework and NGSS have been posted here. As the NGSS are finalized and adopted, look for professional development workshops at the CLC.


The Challenger Learning Center provides simulated space missions to central Illinois schools of K-12 students.

Kindergarten through fourth grade students take on the roles of astronauts, scientists, and engineers during their MICRONAUT mission.

Students in grades fifth through eighth become the flight controllers and astronauts during their SCHOOL mission to Rendezvous with a Comet, or take a Voyage to Mars.

Ninth through twelfth grade students not only become the flight controllers and astronauts during their HIGH SCHOOL mission, but also lead their mission, Operation: Planet Rescue.

To find out more about our simulated space missions for schools or to register for a mission click here.




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Challenger Learning Center at Heartland Community College
1500 W. Raab Road • Normal, Illinois 61761
Phone: 309-268-8700 • Fax: 309-268-7984