Press Release

Centenarians Participate in Challenger Learning Center Mission

By SpaceRef Editor
August 2, 2010
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Centenarians Participate in Challenger Learning Center Mission
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If you have ever seen a photo of someone participating in a simulated space mission at a Challenger Learning Center, odds are it is someone around 10 years old. Recently, however, a group of women, some of them ten times that age, pushed that participant envelope to new heights.

One of the women is Gussie Levine. Gussie clearly remembers her 59th birthday. On that day humankind made its “giant leap” as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon. This year, less than a week after celebrating her 100th birthday, Gussie followed in their footsteps and took a simulated journey to the Moon at the Town of Ramapo Challenger Center in Rockland County, NY.

At age 100, Gussie Levine is 5 years older than anyone else who has ever flown a simulated mission at a Challenger Learning Center. But she doesn’t hold the record. Remarkably, Lillian Modell, another crew member on the flight with Gussie was born five days before Gussie in 1910.

Gussie and her fellow “astronaut” crewmates, all members of the Fountainview Retirement Community in Monsey, NY, entered the Center’s Spacecraft simulator after a short mission briefing and rocketed off to the Moon much like the real Apollo astronauts had done over 40 years before.

At the end of the successful Moon mission, Center Director John Huibregtse, announced to the group that a 95 year-old had once flown a mission at a Challenger Center and was shocked when the Fountainview’s Director of Recreation, Marlene Gittlitz, announced, “Well, we got that beat!”, and introduced the centenarians, Gussie and Lillian, to the Center’s staff.

The Challenger Learning Center opened its doors in the autumn of 1999 and is operated by the Town of Ramapo, New York. Since its opening, over 3,000 simulated space trips to the Moon, to Mars, and to a Comet have been flown. The Center is a member of Challenger Center for Space Science Education Network which was founded in 1986 by the families of the Space Shuttle Challenger astronauts.

The Center provides educational programs for both students and the general public from Rockland and the neighboring counties that comprise the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York State. Besides continuing the educational mission of Christa McAuliffe and the Challenger astronauts, the Center’s goal is to find unique and creative ways to enhance students’ learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Challenger Learning Center programs are a purposeful way of meeting the increasing demand for better science, technology, engineering, and math education. The Center’s hands-on approach to education appeals to the needs and interests of students. It raises students’ expectation of success; develops their critical thinking and cooperative learning skills; fosters in them a long-term interest in science, math and technology; and motivates them to pursue studies in these areas. Using space exploration as a theme, the Center is a wonderful way of reaching all students, including those who are educationally disadvantaged or physically challenged.

Besides the school-based missions for students, the Center offers programs for Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Brownies, as well as public missions, private parties, corporate events, and after-school programs.

But Challenger Learning Centers do not limit their outreach to younger folks as the hearty band of participants from the Fountainview Retirement Community have aptly demonstrated!

Editor’s note: Photos of the visit can be viewed at http://www.challenger.org/about/media/pr_centenarians.cfm

About The Town of Ramapo Challenger Center in Rockland County, NY

Operated by the Town of Ramapo, New York, the Center is dedicated to the educational goals of “Teacher in Space” Christa McAuliffe and the astronauts tragically lost in the Challenger 51-L mission. This Challenger Learning Center’s programs continue the Challenger crew’s objective of engaging students in science, technology, engineering, and math, and foster in them an interest to pursue careers in those fields. For more information on our diverse programs visit: http://www.LHVCC.com or call 845-357-3416.

About The Challenger Center for Space Science Education

Using space exploration as a theme and simulations as a vehicle, the Challenger Center for Space Science Education and its international network of 47 Challenger Learning Centers create positive educational experiences that raise students’ expectations of success, fosters a long-term interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and inspires students to pursue studies and careers in these areas. Challenger Center’s network of Challenger Learning Centers across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and South Korea reach more than 300,000 students each year through simulated space missions and educational programs, and engage over 40,000 educators through missions, teacher workshops and other programs. To learn more about Challenger Center for Space Science Education, visit http://www.challenger.org.

Contact information:

John Huibregtse
Director
john@lhvcc.com
The Town of Ramapo Challenger Center in Rockland County, NY
225 Route 59
Airmont, NY 10901
http://www.LHVCC.com
1.845.357.3416

Carol Pfau
Administrative Assistant
press@challenger.org
http://www.challenger.org
Challenger Center for Space Science Education
300 N. Lee Street, Suite 301, Alexandria, VA 22314
1.888.682.9740

SpaceRef staff editor.