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COSI, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Lab Launch Learning Lunchbox STEM Kits in Tennessee to Help Bridge the Education Gap

Wednesday, 05 May 2021

COSI, ORNL, U.S. DOE will be distributing Hundreds of Energy themed Learning Lunchbox Kits to Classrooms in Partnership with the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network

Oak Ridge, Tennessee – The Center of Science and Industry (COSI), the top-ranked science center in the country by USA Today’s 10Best, Oak Ridge National Lab, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network will kick 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 Distance Learning Initiative is an innovative program led by COSI, Oak Ridge, and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network to deliver 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 Initiative. 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.

Four Tennessee schools will receive these exciting energy themed kits:
  • Oliver Springs High School
  • Midway Middle School
  • Midway Elementary School
  • Elk Valley STEM School

The Learning Lunchboxes are also tailored to other themes, such as Space, created in partnership with NASA. COSI will begin distribution to select schools in the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network to help enhance in-class learning. Oak Ridge National Lab and the U.S. Department of Energy STEM Rising Initiative will be featured inside each STEM kit.

“This pandemic has amplified an educational disparity in our communities. It is great to have government, for-profit and non-profit institutions alike working better together to help ameliorate educational outcomes for the classrooms and communities of our great state,” said Dr. Frederic Bertley, President and CEO, COSI.

“We are thrilled to partner with Oak Ridge National Lab, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Tennessee STEM Network to distribute COSI Learning Lunchboxes and demonstrate the power of partnerships when we ignore the box to bring people together around a common goal of serving our youth. COSI appreciates the support from Oak Ridge National Lab and the U.S. Department of Energy, for without whom; this outreach would not be possible.” “Supporting the next generation of STEM talent means reaching students who may lack access to digital resources,” said Thomas Zacharia, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director. “This innovative partnership demonstrates our commitment to engage and inspire our community’s youth in science and engineering fields.”

“We’re on a mission to save the planet, and STEM skills are key to getting this done,” said AnneMarie Horowitz, Director of STEM Rising, U.S. Department of Energy. “This type of public/private partnership demonstrates how we can come together to serve students and families. The U.S. Department of Energy thanks COSI and Oak Ridge National Lab for working collaboratively to showcase the importance of STEM.”

“Oak Ridge National Lab is working diligently to support students and families during this unprecedented time and we look forward to partnering with both ORNL and COSI to bring hands-on fun distance learning and digital resources to students and teachers through this pilot program,” said Brandi Stroecker, Network Director, Tennessee STEM Innovation Network.

To date, COSI has distributed over 23,000 Learning Lunchbox kits to serve students, families and underserved youth. COSI is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the doors have been closed, COSI has been engaging with the community through COSI Connects, COSI’s digital doorway to online learning; the COSI Learning Lunchbox, kits filled with hands-on science activities; the new “COSI on Wheels: Curbside Edition,” The Color of Science: Digital Edition and QED with Dr. B, a WOSU-COSI prime time science television show. For more information on COSI Connects, visit www.cosi.org/connects.