By The Gatepost Editorial Board
The McAuliffe Center’s reopening last Sunday, Jan. 28, marked both the 38th anniversary of the Challenger disaster and an important step forward for Framingham State.
The Challenger Learning Center redevelopment not only highlights the importance of multidisciplinary learning but it now better aligns with McAuliffe’s mission.
McAuliffe showed the world that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. And now, when you step into the McAuliffe Center, people feel as if they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to.
Christa McAuliffe once said, “Space is for everybody. It's not just for a few people in science or math or a select group of astronauts. That's our new frontier out there, and it's everybody's business to know about space.”
After an $8 million renovation, students from kindergarten to college can now have the opportunity to experience, or re-experience, all that the center has to offer.
This includes the planetarium, the Challenger Learning Center, and a space shuttle/mission control simulation chamber.
According to a press release from the McAuliffe Center, “When you walk into the Christa McAuliffe Center’s newly renovated planetarium these days, you are just as likely to find health studies students meditating under the stars, or art students reviewing their original creations on the dome, as you are to find an astronomy class deeply engaged in discussion on the origins of the universe.”
This interdisciplinary mission has been fulfilled through the vision of director Irene Porro.
The main positive impact of the center's renovation is the multidisciplinary opportunities available to all students and the surrounding community.
Here students can benefit from both the affective and aesthetic thinking of the humanities and the quantitative thinking of STEM.
This educational approach encourages even more learning, according to an article published in Forbes titled, “How a Multidisciplinary Approach Can Shape The Future Of Innovation And Education.” “Universities exist to create original content and produce enthusiastic, talented students who can contribute to the betterment of the world. This can be achieved through various means, such as encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration.”
Framingham State is moving toward a model of multi-disciplinary learning through the addition of multi-disciplinary general education requirements that encourage students to expand their horizons and learn how STEM, the social sciences, and the humanities can work in conjunction to increase the learning objectives of students.
The McAuliffe Center encapsulates the importance of being exposed to all of these fields.
As a STEM major, there is a benefit in learning skills and materials related to arts and humanities. And that benefit holds for humanities majors being exposed to STEM courses in order to become a well-rounded student.
Framingham State holds a special connection to Christa McAuliffe and she will always be Framingham State's most prominent alumna.
Framingham State honors her by being the first in Massachusetts to open a learning center dedicated to her and by having a multi-disciplinary approach to education.
This is a great recruitment tool for FSU - it inspires so many middle schoolers to pursue STEM fields and provides an impactful first visit to Framingham State.