Press Releases

HAZARD, Ky. -- The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky received a federal boost from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) with an $800,000 competitive grant supported by Congressman Hal Rogers. The center, located in Hazard, Kentucky, will use the funding to create a new interactive STEM-based educational program called "Moon, Mars and Beyond, Gateway to Tomorrow." 

"Space science education and aerospace technology has grown by great strides in Eastern Kentucky in recent years, thanks to the Challenger Learning Center in Hazard, the Morehead State University Space Science Center, the East Kentucky Space Science Center and Planetarium, and local industry growth. It is an exciting time for students to learn about space exploration and the Challenger Learning Center provides an unforgettable introduction to space science through the unique resources located right here at home," said Congressman Rogers, who helped launch the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky in 1999. 

The project includes the development and installation of state-of-the-art interactive exhibits housed in the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky's science center. The exhibits will be specially designed to also support mobile outreach initiatives that can be taken by Center instructional staff into schools. Programming will be supported by a cadre of education and industry professionals to guide curriculum and interactive exhibit development. A supplemental on-line program will also be provided to schools participating in the project and as a stand-alone initiative for students learning from home. 

"On behalf of the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky Board of Directors and staff, I would like to thank the ARC for this grant award which is an investment in the future of the Challenger Learning Center. ARC was the Challenger Learning Center’s first investor when the Center originally opened in 1999 and we appreciate the ongoing support. We would also like to thank Congressman Hal Rogers, Senator Mitch McConnell, and former Governor Paul Patton for their support through the application process," said Tom Cravens, Director of the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky. "This grant award will allow students from throughout Appalachian Kentucky to explore STEM careers by participating in a new program called Moon, Mars, and Beyond which will follow NASA’s Artemis missions to return to the Moon by 2024. Just as the Apollo missions in the 1960’s and 70’s inspired a generation of young people to pursue careers in engineering and science, the upcoming Artemis missions and Challenger Center’s Moon, Mars, and Beyond program will inspire Appalachian students in STEM careers especially in Kentucky’s growing aerospace industry."

More than 150,000 young people have participated in the Challenger Learning Center’s programs since the Center opened 21 years ago. 

Learn more about the Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky at

To learn more about Congressman Rogers’ work in Washington and in Kentucky’s Fifth Congressional District, visit and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.