Scobee Education Center
The mission of the Scobee Education Center is to engage our students and community in life-changing experiences that inspire the pathways to STEAM careers. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).
About the Center
The Scobee Education Center at San Antonio College is a 22,000 square foot facility combining the Scobee Planetarium, a first-of-its-kind, next-generation Challenger Learning Center and a rooftop star deck and observatory.
Most programming is reserved by school and community groups Monday through Thursday with the public programs only offered in the planetarium on Friday evenings with presentations at 6:30, 7:30 and 9 p.m.
The Center was established in memory of the lives of the seven crew members of the Space Shuttle Challenger/STS-51LL "Teacher in Space" mission and named after shuttle commander Francis R. (Dick) Scobee and his family. Both Commander Scobee and his wife, Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, were students at San Antonio College.
The Scobee Education Center aims to carry on the Space Shuttle Challenger crews educational mission - to spark interest and joy in science, technology, engineering and math. The Scobee Education Center is dedicated to enriching the lives of children and adults alike by fostering a love of science and astronomy through hands-on and minds-on experiential education.
Opened in October 2014, the Scobee Education Center has quickly become a hub for space science education in the South Texas region.
What We Offer:
- Immersive Simulation Experiences
- School and Public Planetarium Shows
- "Micronauts" Early Childhood Programs
- Summer Camp Programs
- Day of Remembrance Art Contest
- Virtual Resources - fee based
- Digital Resources - Free
- Corporate Team Building for groups of 20-32
- Public Missions: Valentine's Day and Spring Mission
- Special Event Facility Rental
- Educator Professional Development Opportunities with CPE Hours
- Password provided through work/mission registration
History of the Center
Following the launch of Russia’s first satellite, Sputnik, President Dwight D. Eisenhower met with many politicians and businessmen across the country to encourage the development of science and technology education programs. In a meeting with San Antonio Community College president of the board, W.W. McAllister, he suggested that a planetarium would positively influence the lives of the community in San Antonio. Under the direction of college president Dr. Wayland Moody and the first director of the planetarium Frank McConnell, in 1961 the new Chemistry and Geology building and the original 30-foot planetarium dome were constructed.
During its first two years, planetarium staff presented 986‘lectures’’ to 81,481 people. A stunning attendance that was thought to be the highest in the country for comparable planetarium facilities.
In 1994, the SAC planetarium was refurbished and the white dome which pilots had nicknamed the golf ball was clad in a reflective aluminum plating and the observatory was added to house the first telescope to be used on campus. On July 9, 1994 the planetarium was rededicated as the Scobee Planetarium to honor former San Antonio College student and NASA astronaut, Francis R. (Dick) Scobee–– Commander of the Space Shuttle Challenger's final flight.
Almost two decades after its first redesign, Alamo Colleges District planned for another expansion of the planetarium to include offices, restrooms and lobby areas. While under construction, the Challenger Learning Center located at Brooks Air Force Station made the announcement of its closure. With a first-time capital campaign by the Alamo Colleges District, the community of partners took this opportunity to further modify the planetarium’s plans to include the next generation design of the Challenger Learning Center and the Cheever Star Tower which hosts the roof top Scalan Observatory, thus creating the unique architectural venue that is now the Scobee Education Center.
Challenger SA Beginnings
While the Scobee Education center opened in October of 2014, the original Challenger Learning Center of San Antonio (CLC SA) was opened in September of 2000 after a three-year effort by a group of San Antonians who wished to promote this unique science, technology, engineering and mathematics education experience in response to businesses identifying a lack of employee candidates with the STEM and 21st century skills needed to expand their companies. The Brooks Aerospace Foundation was formed to raise capital funds to renovate a building at the Brooks Air Force Base, which became Brooks City-Base. During its operation, the original Challenger Learning Center served more than 65,000 students and 5,600 teachers in over 2,300 missions. More than 900 teachers were provided specialized in-service training.
With the development of Brooks City-Base, New Braunfels Avenue construction resulted in loss of the Challenger facility during a period in 2008 when capital campaigns suffered. While the Brooks Aerospace Foundation was able to raise the funds to cover the cost of the simulator, the needs of the unique facility were not met and the foundation turned to San Antonio College and its president at that time, Dr. Robert Ziegler, to discuss expanding the planned construction to renovate the Scobee Planetarium to include the Challenger Learning Center. Dr. June Scobee-Rodgers, founder of the Challenger Centers nationally and a former SAC student, championed the effort and the first-ever public-private capital campaign through the Alamo Colleges District was initiated.
The CLC SA on Brooks officially closed May 31, 2010. Within a few weeks, the Brooks Development Authority (owners of the former Brooks AFB) demolished the facility.
All the stars aligned in 2012 when ground was broken to bring the Challenger Learning Center from its former home at Brooks City Base to join celestial forces with the Scobee Planetarium at San Antonio College, which has brought accessible astronomy to San Antonio since 1961. On October 31, 2014 during the grand opening of the new facility, it was announced that the 5 million dollar capital campaign target had been met and the newest member of the Challenger Learning Center network would become the next generation of space simulators for the Challenger network.
The Scobee Education Center inspires students of all ages to learn and use problem-solving skills, teamwork, communication, and applied math in hands-on and minds-on experiential education. The Scobee Education Center is a participating member of the Alamo STEM Ecosystem which contributes to the national STEM Ecosystem Initiative.