New Immersive Learning Center Opens at SAC & Aerospace Museum

(July 6, 2016)  ASHLAND, NE

The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum announces the opening of a regional science and technology education center on Saturday, August 13 at 10:00 am.

As a regional science and technology cultural center and a museum with a dedicated, full time education staff, the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum is a place where guests of all ages, especially children and families, can explore, learn, and make discoveries about science, technology, and physics of air and space travel.

The new center will allow the museum’s educational program offerings to expand and engage more youth annually,” said Executive Director Dr. Michael McGinnis.  “We are fortunate to have generous donors who contributed to this $250,000 project.”

The 2,700 square foot center is specifically designed as an out-of-classroom experience for children to experiment and learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the physics, forces, and technology of flight.

The Children’s Learning Center was designed from ‘best practices’ for STEM learning and innovation in consultation with Smithsonian Institution’s Spark Lab at the American History Museum and Heartland Scenic Studio, Omaha, NE. The layout follows a “maker lab” style with reconfigurable tables used for guided staff activities along with hands-on interactive learning stations.  The learning stations are designed following a kinesthetic approach to learning in which the students involve themselves in STEM-related activities rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations.

“We are very excited to have new technology that educates visitors and encourages the development of problem solving skills and creativity,” said Education Director Phil Onwiler. “The Center is a great spot for self-guided hands-on learning and will become an offering in the museum’s educational platform for school field trips and camps.”

The  interactive stations are designed to convey a scientific principle such as how friction, drag, weight distribution, and gravity affect the design and operation of an aircraft or the effects of gravity on different sized and massed objects by dropping them from various heights as well as learning about dynamics and engineering.  These principles are part of the aviation trainer, Bernoulli blower, air blast table, dual test track, quake table, and tennis ball launcher. Kiosk learning stations with computer apps focus on solar system, rocket, and flight.  There are also engineering activities using foam building blocks, suction construction blocks, dominos and KEVA planks that encourage development of children’s motor dexterity, visual-spatial skills, and expressive creativity.

The museum education staff works with guests in the Children’s Learning Center to explain scientific principles and on weekends offers guided activities twice daily in robotics using technologies such LittleBits and Cublets and  builds ‘make ittake it’ glider airplanes to teach guests about engineering and flight.
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About the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum – Located between Lincoln and Omaha near Interstate 80, utilizes over 300,000 square feet of exhibit, education, and event space.  Organized in 1959, the original mission of the museum was to commemorate the contributions of the Strategic Air Command, which until 1992 was headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base.  The museum moved to its current location in 1998 upon completion of a new indoor facility. The museum houses an impressive collection of military aircraft and space artifacts, many of which have been restored in the museum’s on-site restoration facility.  To better serve the community, the museum offers STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education opportunities for students, teachers, families, and adult learners.  Traveling exhibits, permanent exhibits, and a variety of special events provide additional unique experiences for the museum’s members and guests.