Frostburg State University Proposes Science Education Center to Serve Tri-State Region

Jan 22, 2021 10:50 AM

Challenger Center to Be Centerpiece of Facility in Former City Hall

science-center-earth.jpgFrostburg State University is proposing to transform Frostburg’s City Hall into a Science Education Center designed to serve school-age children from the multi-state region, provide a resource for regional science teachers and allow FSU College of Education students additional opportunities to interact with children as part of their teacher preparation.

The project depends on receiving funding to renovate the building, which is being sought from the State of Maryland Capital Improvement Budget and private donors through the FSU Foundation. The estimated cost is $6 million.

The Science Education Center will have multiple elements to provide enrichment to children and teenagers, but its centerpiece will be the Challenger Learning Center, part of an international network of educational centers that use space-themed simulated learning and role-playing strategies to help students bring their classroom studies to life. It was created by the families of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger following the 1986 accident.

FSU has been in discussions with the Challenger Center Network to bring this resource to Western Maryland. They will provide the equipment and training for staff to operate the educational simulations.

The goal for the Science Education Center overall, however, is larger. The vision is to have it open to the public, including on weekends. The center will focus on hands-on activities for children and families interested in learning more about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) subjects. The center will also be available for businesses and organizations interested in improving corporate team-building skills. There are also plans to offer programs for science teachers in the region to enhance their lesson plans and develop new teaching techniques.

“The task before the University is to accomplish for the region what the space program did for the nation, set an aspirational goal and then achieve it,” said FSU President Ronald Nowaczyk. “We see this as an extension of the aspiration of the miners and local community leaders who worked to establish a teacher’s college, Maryland State Normal School No. 2 – now Frostburg State University – nearly 125 years ago.”

The Frostburg City Council has agreed to lease the City Hall building at 59 E. Main St. to FSU for $1 per year. Frostburg, once construction is complete this spring, will be moving city government operations into 37 Broadway, which will house City Hall and the Frostburg Police Department.

Letters of support for the Science Education Center have been received from school districts in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It is hoped that the work could be complete by late 2022 if funding is achieved.

For more information about the Challenger Center, visit www.challenger.org. For more information about the FSU Foundation, visit foundation.frostburg.edu or call 301-687-4068.

Situated in the mountains of Allegany County, Frostburg State University is one of the 12 institutions of the University System of Maryland. FSU is a comprehensive, residential regional university and serves as an educational and cultural center for Western Maryland. For more information, visit www.frostburg.edu or facebook.com/frostburgstateuniversity. Follow FSU on Twitter @frostburgstate.