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Woodstock's Challenger Learning Center hires Algonquin woman as director

Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com
Brigitte Redman poses for a portrait at the Challenger Learning Center in Woodstock Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Redman took over at Challenger Center director at the end of November.
Sarah Nader – snader@shawmedia.com Brigitte Redman poses for a portrait at the Challenger Learning Center in Woodstock Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. Redman took over at Challenger Center director at the end of November.

WOODSTOCK – An Algonquin resident and former teacher has started as the new director of the Challenger Learning Center for Science and Technology of Aurora University in Woodstock.

Brigitte Redman said that her focus in her new role is to excite students and teachers about the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“I just really feel like there’s a huge opportunity to increase exposure to students,” Redman said. “And to maybe get them to feel more confident going into those areas.”

At the center, students are introduced to STEM through activities ranging from space missions to a comet and Mars, to coding workshops.

When students leave the center after a field trip, Redman said she always hears the same phrase as they walk out the door: “Best field trip ever.”

“I think a lot of children think that science is hard or math is hard, or what is engineering?” Redman said. “And technology is your phone and video. Well, that’s not really all there is.”

Redman has worked with the center for about three years as a commander, and officially took on her new role as director in November, following former director Rebecca Dolmon.

Redman has a background as an elementary teacher with endorsements in science, reading and special education. She started in the Canadian school system before moving to the U.S. in 1996 and teaching at schools including Crystal Lake Montessori School.

In addition to building students’ confidence in STEM, Redman hopes to increase teachers’ confidence with the subjects. The center has started to offer outreach programs geared toward elementary school classes where coding and physics lessons are brought into the classroom, Redman said.

“When we’re talking about activities for younger students, it really is just getting their hands on [projects] and letting them explore and not having all the answers for them – letting them find those answers,” Redman said.

Another new program coming at the start of next school year will be an updated Expedition to Mars program, thanks to a $25,000 grant from NASA, Redman said.

Through her time as director, Redman said she hopes to bring new missions to the center and help students and teachers embrace STEM.

“I hope to just bring an openness to new ideas, and to bring more of an open mind to bringing STEM ideas and activities into classrooms every day by seeing them here,” Redman said.

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