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Houston Community College (HCC) is composed of 14 Centers of Excellence and numerous satellite centers that serve the diverse communities in the Greater Houston area by preparing individuals to live and work in an increasingly international and technological society. HCC is one of the country’s largest singly accredited, open-admission community colleges offering associate degrees, certificates, workforce training, and lifelong learning opportunities.



As a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, Challenger Center provides more than 250,000 students annually with experiential education programs that engage students in hands-on learning opportunities. These programs, delivered in Challenger Learning Centers and classrooms, strengthen knowledge in STEM subjects and inspire students to pursue careers in these important fields. Challenger Center was created by the Challenger families to honor the crew of shuttle flight STS-51-L. For more information about Challenger Center, please visit

Challenger Program Mission Control Kids

Our mission for the Challenger Learning Center at HCC is to engage students and teachers in the City of Houston and surrounding areas in dynamic programs designed to increase exploration and discovery opportunities that strengthen knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

We aspire to ignite students’ curiosity to learn 21st-century skills that prepare them for success in their careers and lives, as well as spark a passion for learning that lasts a lifetime through engagement, innovation, self-efficacy, career awareness, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.

Our goal is to meet the demands of the workforce by providing students with the necessary skills they need to succeed in STEM careers. HCC honoring our commitment to innovation, community, and partnerships by creating a pipeline of talent that will bring transformational economic mobility change for Houston.

Kids interacting with a mission control simulation

The STEM programs at HCC’s Challenger Learning Center are hands-on, immersive learning experiences for students. These programs are aligned to national education standards and designed in collaboration with NASA, the National Science Foundation, and private-sector partners.

The classroom adventures, virtual missions, and center missions at the Challenger Learning Center gives students a better awareness and understanding for STEM studies and careers, changing their attitude about STEM subjects from “Can I?” into “I can!”

Our newly redesigned curriculum will offer our students the opportunity to use real-life skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and teamwork, among others.

The Challenger Learning Center will also incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) curriculum to incentivize a pathway to our newly approved Bachelor of Applied Technology in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

Kids interacting with the Challenger Learning Center


NASA logo for the original Challenger CrewOn January 28, 1986, the seven crew members of the space shuttle Challenger set out on a mission to broaden educational horizons and promote the advancement of scientific knowledge. To the nation’s shock and sorrow, their Space Shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff.

In the aftermath of the Challenger accident, the family members, who were all still grieving from loss, met to conceive a plan that would carry on the spirit of their loved ones. What came out of that meeting was an idea to create the world’s first interactive space science center where teachers and their students could experience a simulated space mission. The idea provided the cornerstone of the organization that was incorporated on April 24, 1986–the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

The first Challenger Learning Center opened at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in 1988. There are now over 40 Challenger Learning Centers located in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Seoul, South Korea.

Original Challenger Program Astronauts

Challenger Learning Center at HCC

Challenger Learning Center

The Challenger Learning Center at HCC is conveniently located on the feeder road of 45 Gulf Freeway and Woodridge, at the HCC Eastside campus.

6969 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX 77087