Installed in 1994, the McAuliffe Center’s Challenger Learning Center facility provides space mission simulation programs for middle/high school students, out-of-school time programs, FSU undergraduate students, and industry professionals. Participants assume the roles of astronauts and mission controllers, applying problem solving, decision making, communication, and other essential skills in the pursuit of common goals linked together through one of three mission scenarios.
The McAuliffe Center manages the University’s digital planetarium, a 30’ domed theater that provides multidisciplinary programming to a range of audiences including K-12 schools and FSU students, out-of-school-time groups, and the general public. Programs may include a full-dome film, earth science data models, a live night sky presentation, special guest speakers, Q&A sessions, or kinesthetic learning activities. Monthly public programs appeal to different age groups, including pre-K, age 6 and up, and age 14 and above.
The McAuliffe Center’s open spaces combine to create a flexible exhibit area that may occasionally host a reception or serve as classroom space. Some exhibits are provided through the Center’s partnerships, including a display of fascinating images of the universe provided by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and an interactive virtual tour of the International Space Station, provided by ISS U.S. National Laboratory, a NASA contractor. Exhibits are incorporated into daily school visits and are open to the public during monthly planetarium programs, open houses and science festivals.