STEM on the Road: Museum of Discovery Heads to Mississippi County
Area businesses contribute to fund three cutting-edge programs
LITTLE ROCK (Aug. 15, 2019) – Many leading Mississippi County employers, the county’s economic opportunity commission and even a Little Rock-based foundation collectively contributed more than $53,000 to fund three programs, two the Museum of Discovery will deliver in the county’s 11 elementary schools and six libraries in the coming months and one that was successfully presented in July.
The two programs that will be delivered through the Discovery Network, the museum’s statewide educational outreach arm:
- “Tinkering 101,” which trains school and library educators on activities grounded in principles of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This workshop encourages the exploration and testing of ideas and fosters creative thinking as well as invention.
- STEM Excellence Pathway, which provides processes and tools for schools to assess current STEM programming and to develop and implement an action plan for improvement. The Discovery Network team will support administrators and educators throughout the process. STEM Excellence Pathway was developed by the Carnegie Science Center of Pittsburgh.
The free program that drew middle-school girls to Arkansas Northeastern College (ANC) for a week in July:
- Girls in STEM, which introduced the girls to STEM careers through sessions led by female professionals who represent fields as diverse as medicine, computer science, engineering and toxicology. ANC also hosted Girls in STEM in the summer of 2018.
The goal of these programs is to champion a STEM learning environment in Mississippi County across diverse sectors. This ensures viable pathways and opportunities for STEM learning for all youth and to help build a STEM-literate workforce.
Stepping up to fund the delivery of the programs:
- Nucor Yamato
- Nucor Steel Arkansas
- Big River Steel
- Southern Bancorp
Another sponsor was the Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission, which has partnered with the Discovery Network for three years to deliver training to hundreds of preschool teachers in its 19 Head Start Centers and the educators at the Delta Gateway Museum, where Museum of Discovery exhibits are also displayed periodically. The first session in that training regimen was delivered Friday, August 9.
Also contributing to funding the programs, although they will be delivered hours away, was the June Hoes Williams Endowment, a Little Rock-based foundation.
“Tinkering 101 and STEM Excellence Pathway are programs the Discovery Network team has successfully delivered in schools across Arkansas, and we are thrilled so many who care about Mississippi County’s schools, teachers and children provided the funding to allow for these opportunities that will ultimately benefit the community,” says Kelley Bass, Museum of Discovery CEO.
“The Discovery Network team has also worked with library educators from Eureka Springs to Mountain Home to Little Rock, and we’re glad we were able to include the six libraries in the county in Tinkering 101 training. And Girls in STEM is one of the fast-growing and most well-received programs the museum has ever presented.”
Dave Reinhart, controller of Nucor Steel Arkansas, said his company was happy to contribute to bring these museum training programs to the educators at schools and libraries in the county.
“We at Nucor understand that we must invest in our area schools – their teachers and their students – if we can expect to have a qualified workforce to fulfill our growing needs in the years and decades to come,” Reinhart says. “I know the other major employers in Mississippi County understand the need to continue to build a pipeline of skilled workers, and I’m happy so many contributed to this campaign to make it a reality.”
Just like Girls in STEM, the two museum training programs will be delivered at ANC, another valued partner of the Museum of Discovery and a collaborative hub for the county’s school teachers and administrators.
“We have a history of working closely with all the schools in our county and beyond, and we regularly make our facilities available for a variety of school-focused activities, including these kinds of workshops” says Sherri Bennett, Vice President for College Readiness at ANC. “We will continue to look for ways to work with the Museum of Discovery and the Discovery Network, because we know they can help us achieve one of our primary goals – to give the young people of Mississippi County the tools they need to be successful and go on to pursue their education after high school, including at ANC, where we have many career-focused programs to help them be successful at our area employers.”
Teams of educators from these elementary schools will participate in both museum programs:
- Armorel Elementary
- Blytheville Elementary (grades 3-5)
- Blytheville Primary (grades K-2)
- Gosnell Elementary
- KIPP Blytheville College Prep School (grades 3-6)
- Manila Elementary
- Osceola Carroll Smith Elementary (grades 1-4)
- Osceola North Elementary (Pre-kindergarten and kindergarten)
- Osceola STEM Academy (grades 5-8)
- Rivercrest Elementary
- The Delta School
And staff from the six libraries in Mississippi County – with branches in Blytheville, Keiser, Leachville, Manila, Osceola and Wilson – will go through Tinkering 101 and then facilitate the activities they learn for their library visitors.
To learn how other communities or schools can partner with the Museum of Discovery’s Discovery Network, contact Pody Gay at [email protected] or 501-537-3071. To explore all the programs the Network offers, visit www.thediscoverynetwork.org.
About Museum of Discovery
Founded in 1927, Museum of Discovery is the state’s oldest museum. Its mission is to ignite and fuel a passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math through dynamic, interactive experiences. To learn more, visit museumofdiscovery.org.
About the Discovery Network
The Arkansas Discovery Network was established in 2006 to bring comprehensive, hands-on, STEAM-based educational experiences to students in all parts of the state. Initiated by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Network strives to provide the highest-quality educational experiences focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math to the children and families of Arkansas.