The Center of Science and Industry, the number-one science center in the country by USA Today’s 10Best, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network have kicked off a new program in Tennessee with the goal to help bridge the education gap and digital divide in the state of Tennessee.
The Tennessee Youth and Engagement Initiative is an innovative program led by COSI, ORNL and Tennessee STEM Innovation Network that delivered hundreds of free, hands-on science kits called Learning Lunchboxes. These kits will initially be focused on the theme of energy, in a partnership created by COSI and the U.S. Department of Energy and their STEM Rising program. These boxes, historically created to be distributed alongside meal programs, provide five activities aligned with Tennessee and the Next Generation Science Standards to promote science, technology, engineering, arts, math (STEAM), culture, history and more.
The partnership was kicked-off on Wednesday at Oliver Springs Middle School. Kids and teachers alike were treated to these free science kits and a larger-than-life science experiment called elephant toothpaste to celebrate the new partnership. The children were able to make their own lava lamps with their kits after the experiment.
“We are so excited to partner with the Oak Ridge National Lab to distribute these Energy Learning Lunchboxes across the great state of Tennessee,” said Stephen White, chief strategy officer and vice president of partnerships, COSI. “Together, we will help fuel STEM learning to underserved youth and families to inspire them around potential careers in energy and STEM fields. We thank the entire Oak Ridge National Lab Team for their steadfast leadership to support learning.”
Susan Hubbard, ORNL’s deputy for science and technology, and Stan Wullschleger, associate laboratory director for ORNL’s Biological and Environmental Systems Science Directorate, greeted students, handed out the STEM kits and participated in the science demonstrations. They relished the opportunity to connect with local schools.
“STEM education fosters students’ natural curiosity through hands-on and relevant real-world learning experiences, developing critical skills and a passion for using science to tackle the world’s most challenging problems,” Hubbard said. “Supporting STEM outreach helps students grow and mature into science-minded citizens with the desire to impact their communities from the local to the global scale.”
Distribution has begun to select schools in the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network to help enhance in-class learning. ORNL and the U.S. Department of Energy STEM Rising are featured inside each STEM kit.
To date, COSI has distributed over 100,000 Learning Lunchbox kits to serve students, families and underserved youth throughout the country and internationally.
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COSI, the #1Science Museum in the Country as voted by USA Today’s 10Best, is an esteemed science center that has delighted Central Ohio, with all things science for 58 years, inspiring interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics and delivering our experiential, "hands-on fun" brand of learning. As a trusted educational resource for families, schools and community partners, COSI is an essential element of our community, engaging more than one million people annually through onsite, offsite and online experiences.
UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.