HAZARD — Students from Harvard and M.I.T. rolled into town last week in an unusual fashion. As part of the Spokes Across America project, these students headed into Hazard from New England on bicycles. The Challenger Center was one of the stops for Spokes Across America, which is a program that encourages further development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education for kids.
“We like it here. Everyone has been really nice,” Omar from the Spokes group said about their visit to Hazard.
The Spokes Across America crew will average 70 to 80 miles each day on their bikes, until finally reaching the finish line in San Francisco. The overall trip spans nearly 3,000 miles from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Coast. Along the way, they are visiting educational institutions and offering mini camps that focus on kids and STEM learning.
“We want to encourage kids with hands-on science experiments,” Chloe with Spokes Across America said, “The hands-on experience makes it more exciting and actually more scientific.”
At the Challenger Center, young folks had two opportunities to engage in the Spokes experience, with camps on Thursday and Friday. The camps included workshops that focused on rocket building, math, computers and neuroscience.
“When I saw the Challenger Center, I was a little intimidated,” said Omar, who is a student of Harvard, “I want to make sure we give the Challenger Center what it deserves.”
According to Chloe, the experience in Hazard was encouraging.
“I am impressed by the Challenger Center. One of our team members has visited NASA and he said the simulations they have built here are spot on. The kids here have been amazing.”
The students with Spokes stayed a total of three nights in Hazard and they visited the Perry County Fair before venturing westward. The bikers said that the beauty of Appalachia was worth the work they placed into peddling over the mountains.
The Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky offers summer camps and programs year-round. More information can be found on the Challenger Center website, clcky.com.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.