Noon Rotary Hears About Learning Center

Dr. Marie Plumb and Tom Mosher spoke at a recent meeting of the Jamestown Noon Rotary Club about the Dresser Rand Challenger Learning Center in Allegany.

Dr. Plumb, Challenger Learning Center board member, prefaced the program delivered by Tom Mosher, center director. Plumb has been a science educator for more than 40 years, spending the bulk of her career at Jamestown Community College. Mosher is a retired Olean Public School teacher. After working for 33 years in the Olean School System, Mosher joined the Challenger Learning Center in 2009.

According to Mosher, the Challenger Learning Center is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that opened in June, 2009, as one of 45 Challenger Learning Centers worldwide. The Allegany location is the most rural Challenger Learning Center, with its reach stretching across 17 Western New York and Pennsylvania counties. The 10,000 square foot center has welcomed 6,700 participants, including students, community groups, and corporate outings, since its opening.

The Challenger Learning Center program started in Houston and is supported in non-financial ways by NASA. It is a space-themed learning program designed to stimulate students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math. The learning center provides two simulated space missions: a voyage to Mars, and Comet Halley. The second is a simulation to complete the mission that the Challenger crew was undertaking when that shuttle tragically exploded.

The center is appropriate for those in fifth grade and older. Participants are assigned to various teams similar to those teams that NASA would assign for a mission. In addition to teaching STEM activities aligned with both New York and Pennsylvania state education standards, the participants work on communication and teamwork skills.

The learning center also offers a Great Rocket Design Challenge. Teams respond to a request for proposal for rocket design and the winning team is awarded a contract.

The mission charge is $800 for 30 students or $25 for an individual. The center is working with the Jamestown Public Schools to schedule missions for later this school year. Other rates and additional information regarding the center are available at

The Jamestown Noon Rotary Club is a community service organization which meets at noon Mondays at the Robert H. Jackson Center, 305 E. Fourth St., Jamestown. For more information, call 661-1680.