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Challenger centers worth cost

| Sunday, June 16, 2013, 11:40 p.m.

Re: The letter, “Challenger seeks taxpayer money,” (June 8): Since 1986, the Challenger Center for Space Science Education has established almost 50 Challenger Learning Centers across the United States. Each allows students and teachers to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and become “real world” problem solvers as they share the excitement of learning through simulated NASA space missions.

Challenger programs are based on core STEM curriculum and include two days of teacher preparation, six weeks of classroom instruction and a trip to the local Challenger Center to “fly” a mission. The cost is approximately $25 per student.

We are developing a Challenger center in Indiana County.

Our local committee has received support from the Homer-Center, Indiana, Blairsville/Saltsburg, Marion Center and United school districts. Each has donated $1 per district student — less than one-eighth of one percent of each district's budget.

These monies have been used to fund our Challenger application fee. If approved, we'll become the Central Allegheny Challenger Learning Center, a non-profit serving 22 counties in western and central Pennsylvania.

Funds to build and sustain the center will be raised from foundations and corporations interested in STEM development and from state and federal grants.

Challenger centers are vital participants in the economic and workforce development of their communities. Ours will provide students with the academic foundation and skills they will need to compete for the highly technical jobs being created here right now in the energy, education, finance and health care industries.

We will be a valuable resource and attraction.

Julia Trimarchi Cuccaro,

Indiana

The writer chairs the Challenger Committee Ambassador Group.

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