Funds Keep Center In Orbit

Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - May 26, 2010
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Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona (center) presents a check for $250,000 to Challenger Center Hawaii director Laine Kim (on right) and Gail Awakuni of the DOE (on left) during a mission inside the center May 13 by Mililani Middle School students. Photo courtesy of the lieutenant governor’s office.

Challenger Center Hawaii at Barbers Point Elementary School recently received some desperately needed aid to continue its mission of bringing space exploration to Hawaii’s keiki in the form of $250,000 in federal funds secured by the state.

“We’re grateful that the program is being supported this year, but the question is the ongoing funding for the program,” said center director Liane Kim, who noted that the center lost its funding earlier this year as a result of budget cuts made by the Department of Education.

“The funds will be used to help us operate our learning center, but it is only for one year, so we are concerned about what’s going to happen next year.”


The money was made available under the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Part B as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was passed by Congress last February. Hawaii received approximately $35 million in Part B funds, and the LingleAiona administration has elected to dedicate it all toward improving the quality of public education, with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects.

Challenger Center Hawaii is available to all private and public schools statewide with programs that make students work in cooperative teams to solve real-life mathematics, science and technology problems during a space flight simulation.

“We’re a hands-on, core-content learning center, and although we are called Challenger Center Hawaii, our main focus is STEM,” added Kim. “In order to come on this mission, the kids need to apply all their skills they’ve learned in the classroom.”

Challenger Center Hawaii opened in 1993 and is one of 47 Challenger Learning Centers throughout the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and South Korea.

Schools interested in blasting off with Challenger Center Hawaii can call 673-7410.


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