The Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana has received generous grant awards from BP America, Inc. of Whiting, and the Anderson Foundation of Valparaiso, to help fund STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) related field trips for local teachers and students.

The Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana is a space science education center and field trip destination located in Hammond, Ind. The center works with teachers to assist them in meeting college and career readiness curriculum goals through simulated missions and science-based experiences.

The center's programs are designed to give students the opportunity to test out skills learned in the classroom in a real life situation. Students play the role of scientists, engineers, astronomers, researchers and more during the innovative programs that take place in simulated mission control and space station simulators.

The Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana is part of a network of 42 international centers that endeavor to carry on the educational mission of the Challenger 51L crew who perished in 1986. More than 250,000 area students have participated in the center's dynamic programming over the past 15 years.

Rebecca Manis, executive director of Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana, is thrilled with the award.

"Support from community partners like BP America, Inc. and the Anderson Foundation is not just about the funding, but about their belief that our program is making a difference for the teachers and students who participate," said Manis. "These programs have been shown to engage student interest in the STEM fields and inspire career paths that will build a scientifically literate and technologically advanced future for all of us. It's a wise and much appreciated investment."

Teachers interested in programs and information about the grant funding should contact the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana at (219) 989-3250.