FAQ and center policies


What Is the Total Cost of a field Trip?

The field trip costs $700 per group of 30 students.

What is typical day at the Challenger Learning Center?

The day lasts between 3.5 and 4.5 hours depending on each school’s transportation needs.

  • 9:00 – 9:15
    Buses arrive at the Challenger Learning Center
    Students and teachers gather in the Starlab room for a brief talk about the field trip day
  • 9:15 – 11:00
    Class #1 walks to the briefing room to begin the Expedition Mars Space Simulation
    Class #2 remains in the Starlab room for the ancillary programming (Robotics and Starlab)
  • 11:00 – 11:30
    Both classes eat lunch.
    Lunch may be shortened to 20 minutes.
  • 11:30 – 1:15
    Class #2 in the briefing room to begin the Expedition Mars Space Simulation
    Class #1 in the Starlab room to begin the ancillary programming (Robotics and Starlab)
  • 1:20
    Schools prepare for departure from the center

How many groups of students are served each day?

We can serve 2 groups each day. Each group can have a maximum of 30 students so we can serve 60 students per day.

How flexible are the arrival and departure times?

We can flex times by shortening lunch and moving transition times along. We also have methods to shorten the activities that will still ensure a rigorous fun-filled day for your students.

Where can I find a crew manifest?

Download the Crew Manifest

Where can I find a teacher’s guide?

Download the Teacher’s Guide

Is the Digital Starlab available for offsite programming?

Due to the intricate nature of the equipment, we are unable to accommodate this request.

Are outreach programs available?

At this time, we do not provide outreach programs.

Are parent chaperones allowed to attend?

Parent chaperones are not required. If you choose to bring them, please bring no more than 4 parents per group of 30 students.

What is the maximum number of staff allowed with each group?

There is no limit to the number of school staff for each group.

Can students purchase souvenirs?

At this time we do not offer souvenirs or items for purchase.

Should students and teachers bring their own lunches?

Students and teachers bring sack lunches. We have a refrigerator available.

What must teachers bring on their field trip days?

You need to bring two things:

  1. Completed crew manifests for each group
  2. Final payment if you have not already sent it. We accept checks and MasterCard and Visa.

How can teachers reserve dates for the following school year?

You can email challenger@wcusd200.org or call (815)338-7722. Book as early as possible as our space is limited (there is an astronomy joke there somewhere!)

Who leads programming at Challenger Learning Center?

Our Challenger Learning Center Commanders and Flight Directors are all experienced educators who are committed to STEM education.

Why are the free teacher training sessions beneficials?

Teacher training sessions are not required but these sessions do provide valuable insights into our program and facility. A tour and exploration of our new Expedition Mars mission will enhance your field trip experience. Register for teacher training

Parents and Community Members

When are you open on the weekends?

We are not open on the weekends or weekdays to the general public. Our Family Science Nights, summer camps and field trips are all by reservation only.

How can I bring my family to your center?

You can register for a Family Science Night here.

Do you have a store with space merchandise?

At this time, we do not have a store.

Are you looking for volunteers?

At this time, we are not searching for volunteers.

Do you offer birthday parties?

In order to focus on our STEM mission, we do not host birthday parties.

scouts and robotics groups

Do you have merit badge programs?

We do not have merit badge programs.

Can we schedule weekend events?

All scout events are pre-scheduled with local councils. Contact Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, Blackhawk Council or your local Scouting organization to find out if they are planning a Challenger Learning Center program.

Can we bring our Scout group to a family science night?

Yes and many do. The price is the same as for families: $20/person and children must be supervised by adults/ leaders using the ratios set by your organization.