CONCORD, NH – With a Mercury-Redstone rocket at the front entry and a prominent observatory dome, New England's premier air and space science center will make its home in Concord, New Hampshire, opening on March 6. The new 45,000-square-foot McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center will house new interactive science exhibits, an expanded gift shop, café, and theater space. The new Discovery Center is a major transformation of the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. The first phase of this transformation comes after ten years of planning and development.
The center features 21st century interactive exhibits on aviation, astronomy, and Earth and space sciences, a state-of-the-art planetarium, and a variety of science and engineering programs. Its educational programs are geared towards all ages. The Discovery Center will also offer space for conferences and special events, and a NASA Educator Resource Center.
"The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center will expand the mission of the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, giving our children the opportunity to learn and dream about the stars and beyond," says New Hampshire Governor John Lynch.
The Discovery Center will constantly evolve. The completion of the first phase of development marks the beginning of the transformation. New simulation experiences, interactive exhibits and web-based experiences will be added to the science center periodically over the coming months and years. Future additions include a Challenger Learning Center, simulated flight school, and interactive exhibits and engaging programs on the physics of the universe, as well as traveling exhibits from science centers across North America.
According to Erle Pierce, board president of Touch the Future, Inc., a major goal of the program offerings at the Discovery center is to focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as a life pathway. "The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center's key purpose is to excite young minds, to inspire young people to take joy in the wonders of the STEM disciplines and to eventually pursue careers in these fields," he says.