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Today's space race means more relevance and expanded education role for Tallahassee's Challenger Learning Center

Challenger Learning Center.jpg
Tom Flanigan
Two young Challenger Learning Center visitors explore the relative energy output of different colored lasers under the direction of Education Manager William Figueroa.

With all the rockets being launched nowadays, spaceflight is suddenly cool again, especially when it comes to kids. The proof came in the form ofan excited group of young space and science fans who spent part of a recent Saturday at Tallahassee's Challenger Learning Center. The kids watched a movie in the Center's Planetarium, but they also did hands-on science under the direction of Education Manager William Figueroa who knows something about how young, curious minds work.

"You know what's really cool? The electromagnetic spectrum! Do you know why it's cool? Because this happens and this happens and this is why this happens," he said, describing his technique for couching even complicated science in ways young brains will find irresistable.

Five year old Bailey was convinced.

"Amazing!" she literally shrieked when asked what she thought of the demonstrations.

As was her mom, Brittany.

"I really love that the Challenger Learning Center puts it in a fun way. They really engrain it for them. And they don't know it, but I think they'll remember it for years to come."

The Center's Executive Director Alan Hanstein agreed.

"It's completely plausible that a student who is here at the Center today will be on Mars in our lifetime."

Adding that the Center has a full calendar of fun programs over the year-end holidays.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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