Brownsburg sixth-graders traded in their textbooks and desks for laptop computers, calculators and compasses this week to go on a rescue mission at a small Caribbean island. Though the mission was a simulation of a volcano disaster that occurred on the island of Montserrat 10 years ago, to the students the work seemed as real as the day it happened.

Hosted by the Brownsburg Challenger Learning Center, every sixth-grade class participated in the second-year program designed to give students real-world experience in math, communication and problem solving.

“The teachers tell us that some of the students who don’t perform as well in the classroom really get caught up in an exercise like this,” said Mary Patterson, director of the learning center.

Twenty-four missions are needed to involve every sixth-grader at Brownsburg’s two middle schools. The learning center has hosted two missions a day since Dec. 4, and the missions will conclude Wednesday. The experience is made possible through money provided by the Brownsburg Education Foundation and the Indiana Space Grant Consortium.

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