The STEM center, which operates in the cafeteria after school, was made possible by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, in cooperation with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley.
TVA, state, and Anderson County elected officials were on hand last Friday afternoon to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the center at the school in Rocky Top, with state Rep. John Ragan and Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank among those participating.
As about 20 children sat at tables in the cafeteria working with various STEM-related games and toys, Frank told those assembled for the event that the center is “already inspiring, as it should, to encourage the young people to think more critically, to dream more, to learn more.”
“Thank you, TVA and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation for this investment,” the mayor said.
Frank then asked the kids to give a big shout out, to which they responded quite loudly – bringing cheers from the crowd.
Bridget Jones, vice president for development at the Boys & Girls Clubs, told the crowd that this is the second STEM center the clubs have opened in this area.
“We last Friday celebrated another STEM center at South Knoxville at our Vestal Club,” she said. “We’re very grateful for our partnership with TVA and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.”
TVA representative Bryan Johnson told the group this was the latest of 27 STEM centers TVA has opened recently in its seven-state region in conjunction with the $1.1 million partnership with the foundation.
“STEM education is important to TVA; it’s one of the things we invest heavily in around the Valley,” the agency said in an announcement.
“The common goal between TVA and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation is to create a brighter future for our children by capturing their interest with STEM activities, introducing them to new careers, and fostering critical thinking skills that improve test performance, self-esteem, and school attendance.”
Each center is equipped with six Chromebooks, a Tech Tub to safely store computers, a 3D printer, educational STEM products, a custom-designed curriculum tied to Next Generation Science Standards, a mobile workbench, seven elemental clover tables, and 28 stackable chairs, according to TVA.
Students involved with the TVA centers have an opportunity to participate in the annual STEM Challenge, a national competition hosted by the Ripken Foundation.