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Arizona Science Center expands STEM learning for children’s program

(Arizona Science Center)

PHOENIX — KTAR’s Community Spotlight this month focuses on the Arizona Science Center’s interactive STEM education and its expanding summer learning opportunities.

The center is ready for a summer of fun and learning, says Sari Custer, chief of science and curiosity.

Through a $50,000 grant given by the PNC Foundation, the center is able to provide STEM learning to more than 2,000 children and 250 educators this summer and fall, according to Custer.

The science center’s Pre-K Science on Wheels program engages their earliest learners through hands-on experiments, exploring how things work while observing and investigating the world around them.

“Our youngest learners, they’re the ones we want to hook, right? We want them to go into life loving STEM and loving science whether they go into science or not,” Custer told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

PNC created the Grow Up Great initiative 16 years ago to focus on quality early childhood education, however, the focus recently shifted towards the science center.

Annually, the Science on Wheels program engages more than 20,000 kids and adults from low-income, Title I schools.

“If the last year has taught us anything it’s how important STEM understanding is on that base level to having an educated citizenry,” Custer said.

A couple summer activities offered will include The Science of Bubbles and The Art and Science of Arachnids.

The arachnid exhibit has 100 live arachnids, the largest public display in North America, according to Custer.

A new “Build It” exhibition centered around engineering is set to open this summer and will include items such as a card board construction area and plastic building blocks.

Custer encourages anyone interested in promoting STEM education to visit the website.

“We could always use more [support] because those dollars go to support education both onsite here and offsite in our community,” Custer said.

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