OLEAN, NY – Reann Ehman stood in front of her audience of three, ready to give her speech.

She wore a blue jumpsuit with a patch on her right shoulder that said, “Space Camp.” She wears this jumpsuit when talking to children at her workplace, the Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center.

During her presentation, she explained the Challenger Center’s purpose, the events held there and its summer and winter camps.

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Christine Wolbert and Nancy Phillips, officers with Olean Toastmasters, a public speaking club focused on leadership and communication skills, hosted the event in JCC’s College Center, Room 124.

The scheduled presentation gave Ehman a chance to practice for giving the same speech to prospective businesses, schools and families.

The Challenger Center is growing in attendance, Ehman said. In May and June, the center has a mission scheduled every day.

“So, we need to put ourselves out there more,” Ehman said.

Located at 182 E. Union St., Suite 2, Allegany, the Challenger Center personnel aim to teach students in the Twin Tier Region about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, also known as STEM. They do this through different interactive experiences, the most popular being their simulated space missions.

In one of these missions, “Rendezvous with Comet Halley,” the students simulate a study of Halley’s Comet. Mission Commanders, like Ehman, brief students on their assignments. Half of the group goes to mission control and the other half goes to the center’s version of the International Space Station. Halfway through the mission, the students switch roles, getting to experience both sides.

The center has summer and winter camps that involve other STEM subjects, in which they include students from kindergarten to fifth grade and beyond.

In the 2019 summer camp, they offered several events including, “The Science of Color and Light” for second and third graders, “CSI Spies” for third and fourth graders and “Rocket Camp” for fifth graders and older.

There will be a winter camp held in 2020.   

Ehman said, “These are more than just field trips. They’re exposure to real-world science and math. Students need to know what they’re learning in their classrooms has use.”

Although the audience was small, the Toastmasters, a public speaking club focused on leadership and communication skills, expect a higher attendance next time Ehman gives her speech for them, said Wolbert and Phillips.

“That gives me more time to practice,” said Ehman.

If you are looking for more information on either Toastmasters or the Challenger Center, you can go to their websites: www.toastmasters.org and www.DRCLC.org.

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