ROCKFORD, Ill. (Jan. 22, 2020) – Collins Aerospace Systems has provided Discovery Center Museum a $75,000 contribution to purchase a Mobile STEM Lab to offer outreach programming through hands-on, interactive STEM activities for students in Rockford schools. In afterschool programs, nearly 1,000 children in 8 at-risk elementary schools and 4 middle schools in Rockford Public School District 205 will interact with Discovery Center Educators and Collins Aerospace volunteers to develop confidence and spark an interest in science early.
In addition to visiting Rockford schools, the Mobile STEM Lab will provide outreach to schools, libraries, daycares and community events for children and families from Madison, Wisconsin, south to I-80 and Chicago west to the Mississippi River. Since the lab began operating in June 2019, it has served 8,972 children and parents through its participation in 118 programs.
“When we spark an interest and develop confidence early, students are more likely to continue on to study STEM subjects throughout high school, college and beyond,” says Sarah Wolf, executive director of Discovery Center Museum. “It is a natural collaboration which not only provides students access to STEM equipment and learning, but also allows them to meet real scientists working right here in our community at Collins Aerospace.”
“Investing in STEM education, investing in workforce development and investing in our Rockford community are all key objectives for Collins Aerospace, and the Mobile STEM Lab helps us further all three,” said Eric Cunningham, executive director, Electric Power Systems at Collins Aerospace. “We’re proud to help provide this unique learning experience to local students and to continue our longstanding support for the Discovery Center.”
This innovative collaboration is threefold:
- The Mobile STEM Lab allows Discovery Center staff to offer STEM related hands-on activities for students in the afterschool program. Staff will visit each school twice a month and engage students (approximately 100 per school) in small group activities that build STEM skills. Collins Aerospace volunteers will participate and share experience and knowledge with the students.
- Discovery Center will conduct family nights at each of the schools. Collins Aerospace staff will participate in hands-on activities that reinforce the STEM concepts they are learning in the afterschool programs. A family night will encourage parents to attend and participate. Parent, family and community involvement in education correlates with higher academic performance and school improvement. Students tend to earn higher grades, attend school more regularly, stay in school longer and enroll in higher-level programs.
- Collins Aerospace team members will participate at Discovery Center's Annual 'Discover Engineering' event as well as the museum's annual 'Career Day.'
“Discovery Center is committed to advocating the importance of STEM education,” explains Discovery Center Executive Director Sarah Wolf. “We want students to understand and embrace the technology that impacts their lives every day. Our goal is to plant the ‘seed of interest’ that can grow into an exciting and rewarding STEM career.”
Collins Aerospace’s contribution to the Mobile STEM Lab builds on its longstanding support for the Discovery Center. In recent years, the company has provided roughly $175,000 in funding to the museum, while its employees have contributed hundreds of volunteer hours. In addition to the Mobile STEM Lab, Collins Aerospace also sponsors the museum’s Air & Flight exhibit and Live Science Theater.
The company’s support for the Mobile STEM Lab is part of its recently announced new corporate social responsibility program called Redefining Futures. As part of the program, Collins Aerospace plans to increase its impact locally and globally by aligning volunteer activities, civic leadership and corporate giving around three pillars: 1) inspiring youth to pursue opportunities in STEM 2) investing in the industry’s current and future workforce and 3) strengthening local communities.
About Discovery Center Museum
Discovery Center Museum is a children’s science museum providing hands-on math, science and art experiences for all ages with over 250 hand-on exhibits, planetarium, special area for children under five, and an outdoor science park. Discovery Center Museum is the nation’s 5th Best Museum for Families according to USA TODAY/10Best.com, and one of 12 museums included in Forbes.com’s article, The 12 Best Children’s Museums in the U.S. In 2019 Discovery Center earned the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame distinction. The Museum is located inside Riverfront Museum Park, 711 North Main Street, Rockford, Ill. General admission to the Museum is: $9 adults, $9 children (ages 2 to 17); free to Museum members and children age 1 and younger. Hours of operation are: 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week. For additional information, call (815) 963-6769 or log onto our website at www.discoverycentermuseum.org.