Planetarium name honors PUC professor
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent July 25, 2012 3:36PM
For more information about the
Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana, call 989-2007 or visit
Updated: August 27, 2012 11:06AM
The planetarium at the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana was recently named in honor of Purdue University Calumet professor Robert Rivers.
The Robert H. Rivers Planetarium was dedicated earlier this month to Rivers, who is planning retirement after 37 years on the PUC campus, and who also is a board member of the Challenger Learning Center, which is based at the Hammond campus.
Rivers and his wife Mazel were in attendance at the recent unveiling of the new signs at the planetarium’s entrance.
“I was blown away,” Rivers said. “But
you don’t do this because of a name on a building — you do it because you care about the kids.”
His wife attested to that fact as she commented on her husband’s dedication.
“He’s truly enjoyed working with all the people at Purdue and the Challenger Center for so many years,” she said. “This is a wonderful honor.”
Planetarium director Karen Kovach leads programs for area students during the school year. With state standards changing in regard to science education, these programs can be valuable to those pupils, she said.
“The planetarium is an outstanding teaching tool,” she added.
During the celebration, colleagues stopped by to congratulate Rivers.
Alice Anderson, current dean of the PUC School of Education believes the honor of naming the planetarium for Rivers is fitting recognition for Rivers.
“It’s a true legacy that he is leaving,” Anderson said. “He has contributed greatly in many areas — especially to the science program in the School of Education by preparing the teachers.”
Becca Fenes, 13, of Highland attends the current Space Day Camp at the Center, and she and her mom Lonnie arrived for her class shortly before the ceremony began.
“The planetarium is really cool, we use it everyday,” the youngster said.
Identifying what is “out there,” working calculations on specifics and other tasks are on the day-campers agenda.
The Challenger Learning Center is part of a network of 48 learning centers. The goal is to promote innovative, space science education for students, teachers and employers.
Rivers has served the Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana since 2005 as a board member and from 2010-12 as board chair. He also managed development of the Challenger Center’s Indiana Space Adventure Camp in 2000.
The semi-retired PUC dean also is
director of the university’s Center for Science and Technology Education, which has been active developing curricula for the Hammond Academy for Science and Technology.
Rivers has been on the PUC faculty since 1975. During the early 1970s, he was science coordinator for the Highland school district.