ORLANDO, Fla. – The mission of the Orlando Science Center is to inspire science learning for life and to eliminate barriers to STEM education. That’s why at the beginning of this school year, OSC and the city of Orlando began the Neighborhood Science program.
“One of the big inspirations for Neighborhood Science was we felt as Orlando Science Center we had to do more to increase access,” OSC Vice President of Marketing Jeff Stanford said. “And this is an amazing partnership between the OSC and the city of Orlando, with support from NASA and a whole lot of other amazing partners that provide hands-on STEM learning for kids that come to the Grand Avenue (Neighborhood) Center every day after school.”
A room at the center is now a science, technology, engineering and math lab. Programming is offered four days a week for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
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“What we have found, the feedback we’re getting from the kids, they’re talking about it, they feel like scientists. You know, they put on goggles and a lab coat and ask, ‘Do I look like a scientist?’ Yes! You are a scientist,” Stanford said. “They see things that are relatable, they see people who look like them doing hands-on-science. We’ve had some amazing guest speakers. We have had rocket scientists from NASA come in to talk about the Artemis mission.”
Stanford said a key component is making sure the kids feel seen. So students there collaborated with a team of artists to design a mural outside of the STEM lab.
“Because what we wanted, we wanted the neighborhood science center to be representative of the kids in this neighborhood. We wanted them to feel invested, to feel connected, that this is their space,” Stanford said.
Artist Sabrina Dessalines was on the team who created the mural.
“I want to continue to help the kids in this area and help them be more open to more opportunities and be more inspired to do more with their life and be open with learning and having fun with learning so they don’t feel like there’s a limit to what they can achieve in life,” she said.
Stanford said Neighborhood Science sponsors include Disney, Lego, NASA, the DeVos Foundation and Bank of America.
Neighborhood Science is also offered at the Bradley Otis Boys and Girls Club, with the hope to expand to more community centers.
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