Challenger Learning Center in Hazard receives more than $800,000 for upgrades

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Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:33 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - For more than 23 years, the Challenger Learning Center in Hazard has been teaching kids in Eastern Kentucky that they have the ability to shoot for the stars and land on the moon.

The center recently received a $800,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission along with numerous private donations to assist in facility upgrades.

“We had two major areas that we upgraded. We upgraded our missions which are our flagship program, and we upgraded our museum space,” said Charles Bush, the office manager at the Challenger Learning Center.

The updates were made all across the building from cosmetic changes in rooms to high quality software upgrades which included new paint, lighting, carpet, as well as new computers and monitors in the mission’s area.

“We have a brand-new mission that we’re flying that no one’s ever flown before, and we’re really excited about that,” said Bush.

They also transitioned the long-standing exhibit, “Mars Invasion” into a brand-new Artemis inspired exhibit called “Moon, Mars and Beyond.”

The new exhibit will teach kids everything about Artemis with exhibits on robots, AR landscapes and even the impact Kentucky made on the aerospace industry.

“The number one dollar for dollar export in Kentucky or out of Kentucky is the aerospace industry. There are many aerospace companies that make parts that aren’t made anywhere else in the world. High specialized and highly advanced,” Bush added.

He said they want to be able to continue to teach kids that Kentucky is full of opportunities.

“I think the most important reason for what we do is to expose students to new things, and when we can expose these kids and let them know that you know when they’re getting their hands on it and they’re experiencing this stuff firsthand,” said Bush.

Bush also added they are still working on a few of the exhibits and hope to have everything completed by the end of spring.