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Center Lessons

Center lesson dates are available each year to our consortium members in late August. All lessons are scheduled through a designated MSiC Representative at each school. To ensure service, please confirm all lesson dates by October 15. After that, available dates can be accessed from our main web page and will be available to all divisions.

Scroll down for more information about each of our nine Center lessons.

Contact Pam O'Brien (343-6525, ext. 238) or Donna Newman (343-6525, ext. 222) for more information.


Aquatic Adaptations

Standards of Learning: 2010 Science (3.4, 3.5, 3.6); 2009 Math (3.3, 3.9, 3.13, 3.19)

A central feature of this lesson is the 20,000 gallon set of aquaria which taken collectively, represent the six different aquatic environments in the Chesapeake Bay watershed ranging from a mountain stream (in which we raise trout for release), the James River and the Atlantic Ocean. In Aquatic Adaptations, students focus on the relationships among species of animals and plants while they explore their need for interdependence. In addition, students handle live aquatic specimens in our Touch Tank as a hands-on reinforcement of these concepts.



Innovation Station

Standards of Learning: 2010 Science (3.1, 3.2); 2009 Math (3.9, 3.14)

Get ready to create in the Innovation Station! Here, students explore the mechanics of simple and compound machines by constructing models featuring motors and sensors which they program using LEGO Education WeDo® software. Using engineering design principles, students work as a team to program their models in order to solve an interactive challenge. Who will complete the challenge? Find out when you visit the Innovation Station!




The World of Spiders

Standards of Learning: 2010 Science (3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 3.10)

Welcome to the world of arachnids where students observe living specimens, engage in demonstrations and hands-on experiments through the use of video technology, microscopes and a simulated molting experience. In The World of Spiders, students learn more about the beauty, functionality and geometry of webs, as well as hunting techniques of various types of spiders. As students become more familiar with the complex and important role that spiders have on our planet, they examine how both structural and behavioral adaptations allow spiders to be successful predators. Many a student has exited The World of Spiders with a completely new appreciation for these wonderful creatures among us.

Web Resources:





Standards of Learning: 2010 Science (4.1, 4.5, 4.6); 2009 Math (4.3, 4.4, 4.14)

Our environment is filled with living and nonliving components that interact and affect each other in many ways. In Eco-Detectives, students don buckets, nets, magnifiers and the role of ecological scientists to determine the health of our MSiC pond ecosystem. During their field-based data collection process, students consider what living and nonliving factors may affect this environment as they examine specimens, test the water quality and compare data. In addition to gathering data from the pond, students also work in the surrounding area collecting information on land use, weather data, and trees. Back in the lab, students analyze their data to assess the health of the pond ecosystem.

Lesson Requirement: Students need to be appropriately dressed for working outside. It is recommended that they wear old clothing and sturdy shoes to collect samples at the pond.



Kicking It With Newton

Standards of Learning: 2010 Science (4.1c, e-l, 4.2); 2009 Math (4.6a, 4.7a, 4.16b)

Why does a skateboard go forward when a foot pushes backward? Why does a body move forward when you hit the brakes? Why is it easier to push a Mini Cooper than a school bus? In Kicking it With Newton, students explore questions like these as they examine the laws of motion in action.  Friction, forces, mass, and gravity all come together as students pull, push, flick and kick their way to a deeper understanding of the laws that govern how things move.   




Weather Emergency Operations Center

Standards of Learning: 2003 & 2010 Science (4.1, 4.6); Technology (C/T 5.4)

In the Weather Emergency Operations Center, students use interactive multimedia along with simulated and real-time data to make observations, inferences, and predictions as they track the progress of a storm. Working in teams such as the National Weather Service, Media Center, Power Station and more, students engage in shared decision-making during a simulated weather emergency. They predict where the storm will travel and determine the best way to inform the public. In the Weather Emergency Operations Center, students are also introduced to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) site on campus, as well as the Center's Automated Weather Service, wind turbine and anemometer for further extension and exploration of lesson concepts.




Fractal Keys - MSiC & Harrowgate

Standards of Learning: 2009 Math (5.2, 5.12, 5.13, 5.17)

Join our tour group to explore Fractal Keys, our fantasy islands, where we can use our math understanding, skills, and knowledge to explore the exciting world of fractal geometry. During the trip, students will better understand how to describe a repeated pattern mathematically in several different contexts ranging from nature, rivers, nerves, blood vessels, and music.

Our tour begins on Architecture Isle where students learn similarity and how fractals are used in building designs. Then, students journey to Music Isle where they explore patterns in music and practice translations, rotations, and reflections. On Art Isle, students explore the concept of similarity, proportions, and patterns within patterns. Our last tour stop brings us to Nature Isle where students learn about the amazing occurrence of fractals throughout the natural world. Returning to our world, we see our fractal tour has not ended but only begun.

Web Resources:



Mystery Cargo

Standards of Learning: 2009 Math (5.4, 5.8, 5.15, 5.16); 2010 Science (5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 5.6)

In Mystery Cargo students perform experiments to determine the impact of an accidental breach of a cargo container on the Chesapeake Bay. Using simulated and real-time data, along with hands-on experiments, students identify substances, determine the results of mixing oil with various substances, test the salinity of water using the refraction of light and use GIS wind speed data, air and water temperature to determine how fast the substance has traveled and in which direction in order to determine what part of the Bay has been affected and what remediation efforts can be used to clean it up. 

Students’ calculations in this simulated exercise are extrapolated to environmental issues on a larger scale as they discuss ecological and environmental issues.

Web Resources:



challenger learning center richmond  

Challenger Center transports students to a cutting edge Mission Control room and a high-tech space station for an unforgettable learning experience! 

During the Expedition Mars mission, students take on the roles of scientists working in mission control on Mars’ moon Phobos and astronauts working on the surface of Mars. They work together to collect Martian geological data, determine and assess evidence of life and water on Mars, and physically build a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which will seek a new source of water on the Martian surface. Tasks completed during the mission will allow students to increase their understanding of the following major topics:

  • The relationship between freshwater resources and geologic processes on Mars and the Earth;
  • The interdependence between biotic and abiotic factors that exist in ecosystems;
  • The impact of energy transfer between the Sun and planetary climate and biotic/abiotic systems;
  • How remote sensing has enabled us to observe our dynamic planets in ways that would otherwise be impossible.
  • The use and interpretation of charts, graphs, and maps as applied in space exploration.
  • The importance of working collaboratively and creatively as a team to problem solve relevant challenges.
Class size is limited to 32 students. Standards of Learning: 2010 Science (6.1, 6.3, 6.5, 6.6, 6.8); 2010 Earth Science: (ES.3, ES.6, ES. 8, ES.11, ES.12); 2010 Life Science (LS.6, LS.9); 2010 Physical Science (PS.6, PS.7); 2012 Computer Technology: (C/T 6–8.1, C/T 6–8.10, C/T 6–8.13)


Challenger Learning Center Video


Teachers and Chaperones: Below you will find current mission documents and forms.




Aaron Moody

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