Collaboration with the Kentucky Science Center (KSC)

In order to inspire undergraduate STEM students to pursue a career in K-12 teaching, are collaborating with the Kentucky Science Center as a part of our Noyce Capacity Building project to strengthen the K-12 STEM teacher education pathways so that we can provide summer internship opportunities at the Kentucky Science Center for our STEM majors to carry-out hands-on engaging science activities with the younger students from the various grade levels that will develop their skills in STEM education. We are hoping that such interactions with the younger students may generate their interest in pursuing a career in STEM teaching.  This project comes at a critical time for Kentucky because of the changing student demographic and the state’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that will have strong curriculum in STEM, and the development of new statewide performance assessments which will improve the educational achievements for all students.  In summer 2019, funded by the Noyce Capacity Building grant, 10 STEM students took part in the STEM summer camp internship program at the KSC.

Kentucky Science Center (KSC), founded in 1871, is a non-profit organization and is Kentucky's hands-on science museum with a 150,000 sq. ft. complex, located in Louisville. More than half a million people visit KSC annually. A special hands-on area, featuring six educational activity sections was renovated in 1998 and renamed as KidZone.  In the lobby area, a pendulum has been a fixture of the building for decades. In 2009, KSC opened a Science Education Wing on the building's first floor that includes four science-workshop labs equipped for hands-on projects. A four-story digital theater was added in 1988 that was renovated in early 2014.  In addition to the main gallery, KSC has a number of hands-on exhibits on the first floor, namely- Science Depot, Color & Light, Shaped and Stuff, Cityscape, Big Shapes, Water Table, Air Ways, and Grow Zone.  In the Grow Zone, there are numerous science exhibits, such as sensory and magnet walls, that offer the perfect place for the visitors to experiment with. In the Air Ways exhibit, there is a vertical wind tunnel that shows the power of wind. On the second floor there are a collection of interactive exhibits designed to engage in investigative science and engineering practices, namely- Rocket Table, Wind Tubes, Build it Up (Crane), Whisper Dishes, and Theremin (that demonstrates the physics of proximity sensors with an  electronic musical instrument played without any physical contact). On the second floor, there is a Nanotech Gallery and the MakerPlace exhibit (that has a variety of skill-building activities with tools) which is staffed with STEM professionals and interns who provide help and answer questions. Additionally, on the second floor, there is a Discovery Gallery (a Natural History gallery) where students learn about anthropology, archaeology, and paleontology. There is also a beautifully-curated collection of specimens, gems and fossils. KSC has an exhibit on the Gemini Trainer (NASA’s second human space flight program). KSC has a Challenger Learning Center where visitors can learn about the universe and space exploration. The Learning Center has a space mission simulation and shows how to solve real-world problems.  Visitors can practice the skills utilized by the astronauts, scientists, and engineers who ensure each space mission’s success. 

KSC holds a number of STEM summer camps and programs throughout the year for elementary, middle and high school students. KSC also holds a Youth Science Summit, an immersive, full-day workshop experiences for middle and high-school students which empowers young adults in STEM fields.  The Youth Science Summits give high school students the chance to interact with and learn from industry professionals and faculty in academia. The KSC‘s educational methodology practiced in all of its STEM-based summer camps and internship programs use problem-based learning methods focused on the science and engineering practices of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), thus helping students understand and implement best practices in STEM education. KSC’s summer camp internships are designed to immerse learners in inquiry-based exploration of STEM topics that are based on a relevant, real-world context that increase students’ levels of interest and motivation in science. Previous work with KSC by both Drs. Mahmood and Cook and their recent work on the Noyce Capacity Building grant with KSC has laid the foundation for best practices in STEM education and collaboration on behalf of students. In the past, Physics students have actively participated at a number of KSC sponsored STEM events, notably – at the 8th Annual Louisville Future STEM Professionals Summit for high school students on June 16, 2018, the 2015 Engineering Week at the KSC on Feb 26, 2015, the 2015 Youth Science Summit at the KSC on July 25, 2015,  STEM Outreach Event at the KSC on Feb 21, 2014 and the Kentucky Youth Science Summit, held at the General Electric (GE) Appliance Park in Louisville on June 14, 2014. 

For more information about the KY Science Center,  see link -