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Students from Harrison Middle School in Pittsburgh fly a mission to the moon at the Challenger Learning Center in Wheeling.

In Wheeling, the Challenger Learning Center brings the dream of space travel to life. Kids climb aboard a space station, conduct scientific experiments and work together to solve problems. “Missions” include going to the moon, Mars or exploring Earth from space. Students in Mission Control direct the activities of the students on board the space station by navigating, maintaining life support systems, communicating or conducting research. The students experience the critical thinking, leadership, cooperation and problem-solving challenges necessary for mission success.

“They really make the connection between what they learn in school and what they do here,” said Annie Morgan, assistant director of on-site programs at the center. “We see the light bulb go off, when they realize why their teacher made them learn certain concepts. It’s so hands-on and interactive. They love challenging themselves and handling the mock emergency situations. Each mission lasts about four hours, and what we usually hear is that they wish it were longer!”

The Challenger Learning Center opened at Wheeling Jesuit in 1994, and it’s one of 48 centers across the United States. Each year the center reaches 30,000 students either through onsite missions or the 750 video connections made to classrooms around the world. The program was started in 1986 by the families of the seven astronauts killed in the Challenger explosion that same year.

“This program is such a fitting tribute, and I think the astronauts would be proud to see what’s come out of the tragedy,” Morgan said.

For more information about the Challenger Learning Center go to clc.cet.edu.
Evansdale - Taking a Shine to Solar

From silicon chips to touch screens

Did you know that some of the raw materials and components for your favorite personal electronics came from West Virginia?

Nearly one-third of all silicon used in the United States, Canada and Mexico comes from the WVA Manufacturing LLC plant, tucked into the scenic upper Kanawha Valley. The small town of Alloy is home to the largest silicon metal smelter in North America. Its smelter operates around the clock. Every day of the year, it produces 360,000 to 380,000 pounds of high-grade silicon metal that goes to industrial and consumer products, including microchips and electronics.

Meanwhile, glass for touch screens is manufactured by EuropTech USA, Clarksburg. The company designs custom display panels with special coatings, silk-screening, special edgework and lamination for hand-held devices, kiosks, ATMs and numerous consumer, medical and military applications.

From Silicon Chips to Touch Screens