Conner Prairie: Regional Outreach Center for Spaceport Indiana
By Melanie Hayes
Conner Prairie Interactive History Park
A new frontier is coming to Conner Prairie.
As of Jan. 1, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, Indiana’s only Smithsonian Affiliate, became a Regional Outreach Center for Spaceport Indiana. Based in Columbus, Spaceport Indiana is the largest STEM provider in the state.
This partnership will enhance Conner Prairie’s ability to offer students and teachers learning and teaching opportunities in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. The goal is to inspire them, expand their minds and help them become an integral part of the workforce when they grow up.
Working together, staff from both organizations will engage students in creative STEM initiatives in Fishers. Spaceport will begin the first routine unmanned rocket launch program in Indiana and the Midwest with a rocket blastoff tentatively scheduled for late January out of Columbus.
“For the past six years, Conner Prairie has been highlighting the STEM-related aspects of history. Space exploration, for example, has been an important part of American life for over 50 years,” said Ellen M. Rosenthal, president and CEO of Conner Prairie.
“We are pleased to partner with Spaceport Indiana and add more STEM activities to our programming,” she said. “Last year we received a $2.3 million award from the National Science Foundation to create a model for integrating informal science experiences into programs at history sites and museums. This new partnership ties in with our ongoing initiative.”
The joint effort will allow visitors to experience a host of Spaceport programs such as SpaceLab workshops, INSpace Camps and large science events on Conner Prairie grounds. A variety of platforms and formats will be available at Conner Prairie, including high altitude balloon flights, amateur radio, rockets, space artifacts and more.
“The partnership with Conner Prairie will mean a substantial opportunity for Hoosiers,” said Brian Tanner, president and chairman of Spaceport Indiana. “Our ability to expand STEM education and engage students through the Regional Outreach Center program will make learning fun, challenging and rewarding. America is looking for the bright young minds that will shape our workforce and Spaceport Indiana believes that the best candidates will come from Indiana.”
Spaceport Indiana programming at Conner Prairie is expected to start in February.