Technically Disadvantaged K-12 Students to Benefit from AT&T Foundation Gift to Coca-Cola Space Science Center

November 3, 2022

A contribution of $25,000 from AT&T Foundation will help Columbia State University continue to serve K-12 students in the area with high-quality, high-tech STEM education in its Coca-Cola Space Science Center. Through the foundation’s gift, the center will create three new exhibits for interactive space-based simulations and games that will become long-term additions to its visitor gallery.

“We are excited to partner with AT&T on this project as we strive to make our exhibit gallery more interactive for our visiting students and community guests,” said Dr.
Shawn Cruzexecutive director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and professor at CSU
Department of Earth and Space Sciences.

Cruzon explained that the space-themed games and simulations funded through the AT&T Foundation partnership will be highly engaging while helping participants learn more about planetary science and space exploration. They will stimulate greater interest in space and astronomy and provide a fun, engaging method to introduce and enforce digital learning and STEM concepts to students and families.

Specifically, the three interactive gaming exhibits will focus on rocket building by simulating the construction and launch of rockets that vary in size and capabilities; a rover and helicopter simulation that allows visitors to examine the Martian surface for signs of life; and a lunar lander that celebrates NASA’s new Artemis program while honoring the legacy of the Apollo missions. The exhibits, expected to be installed in the center’s main exhibition gallery by fall 2023, will be accessible to K-12 students on school field trips to the center and to all visitors.

Through its foundations and philanthropic initiatives and partnerships, AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. This is especially true of its focus on developing programs that bridge the digital divide and provide resources to underserved populations.

“AT&T is proud to support Columbus State University to provide opportunities for students to access digital learning, develop new skills and discover STEM career fields,” said Tiana Evola, AT&T Regional Director of External Affairs. “Together with Columbus State University and the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, we are inspiring learners of all ages and connecting students to a future of opportunity.”

As part of its $2 billion company-wide commitment from 2021 to 2023 to address the digital divide, the company launched AT&T Connected Learning to invest in connectivity and technology, digital literacy and education solutions to help today’s learners to succeed in and out of the classroom.

About 40% of visitors to the Coca-Cola Space Science Center fall into minority groups historically underrepresented in science and science careers. Among Muscogee County School District students alone who attend the center annually, more than 50 percent are from Title I, high-poverty schools. Many of these students do not have access to technology at home for educational purposes. New simulation and gaming exhibits funded by the AT&T Foundation will increase these students’ comfort levels with using a variety of technologies and accessing online educational resources.

AT&T has been a loyal corporate and philanthropic partner of Columbus State for more than 30 years.

“Thanks to AT&T and the continued support of the AT&T Foundation, Columbus State, our students and our community-serving educational programs have benefited greatly,” said Dr. Rocky Kettering, CFRE, CSU’s vice president for university development. “This support has specifically enhanced programs focused on high school retention, college work readiness and career development – especially for non-traditional and underserved students.”

Annually nearly 40,000 visitors from Columbus and around the world take advantage of
Coca-Cola Space Science Center mission to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists, engineers and science educators and communicators. Since opening in 1996, its galleries, aerospace artifacts, and science education programs have fostered public appreciation of science and technology, as well as advanced scientific literacy throughout our community.

The center maintains a close partnership with the Muscogee County Local School District. In 2014, the center and school district officially expanded their initial partnership to include annual center outreach to all of the Columbus area’s more than 17,000 K-6 students—making it an example among university/local school system science education partnerships in the U.S. Its educational outreach programs are centered around STEM fields—particularly astronomy and space exploration, continuing professional development for K-12 STEM educators, and more recently robotics in conjunction with the new CSU Robotics Engineering Program.

For more information about the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, visit ccssc.org.

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