Landing on Mars source of local excitement

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Having a robotic rover on Mars and a challenge from President George W. Bush to land a man on the Red Planet has excited students and adults participating in a Mars landing simulation at the Alaska Challenger Learning Center in Kenai.

Last weekend a special "Family day to Mars" was experienced with grandparents, parents, and 5th & 6th Grade students at seven Challenger Learning Centers across America simultaneously, according to Lead Flight Director Tamra Wear at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska. "We have three generations landing on Mars, doing a crew exchange, and then half will return and the others remain on the Planet for two years, and it's all happening simultaneously at seven Challenger Centers across the United States," explained Wear. "These 5th & 6th graders are the generation of Mars explorers that will be taking the next giant leap for mankind, and they are excited about it. The turn out for this mission was huge, and the kids are excited to get out there in the universe," said Wear.


Challenger Learning Center Lead Flight Director Tamra Wear assists students during their recent mission to Mars.

According to Nikiski 6th grader Cassie Johnson the mission is very challenging, "I think it's really terrific that we have this Center where kids can truly feel like what it will be like actually being on Mars. Math and science have become my favorite subjects and this mission is not only fun and exciting, but it just makes me want to do it more," said Johnson. More than ever before Alaskans are becoming aware that the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska is resource for the entire state in Science, Math, and Technology, says Wear. While there are many new things happening over at the Center, Wear admits that her favorite thing right now are the paper rocket launchers, "When you get the good ones that go really high and really far, you just can't help but be excited," said Wear.

As last weeks family mission to Mars indicated once again the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska is not just a great asset for teaching kids, but has unique applications to the State's business community as well. According to Sharon Gherman, Executive Director for the Center, most of the other Challenger Centers are located in population centers of the United States where they are overwhelmed with the demand of kids to take the missions, but other than April and May, the Alaska Center is able to offer valuable employee training at the facility to Alaska' business community. "My background is business, and I plan on spreading the word what a fantastic means the Center has for employees to learn skills of teamwork through interactive role playing. Identifying the elephant in the center of the room so to speak in a fun way," Gherman told the Soldotna Chamber earlier this month. She plans on marketing corporate missions to the business community of Alaska especially in the summer when business people could come to Kenai for a mission, go fishing, and write it all off as a business expense. For more information on corporate missions and other new opportunities call the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska at 283-2000.

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