Arnold STEM Center passes ‘fun in learning’ to Hands-On Science Center

High school students design vehicles during the Arnold Air Force Base Student Design Competition Feb. 20 at the Hands-on Science Center. The SDC is an event that the HOSC supports in partnership with Arnold AFB and other local engineering societies and businesses. (Courtesy photo)

High school students design vehicles during the Arnold Air Force Base Student Design Competition Feb. 20 at the Hands-on Science Center. The SDC is an event that the HOSC supports in partnership with Arnold AFB and other local engineering societies and businesses. (Courtesy photo)

As the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Qualifying Tournament judges deliberate over the final scores, four of six FIRST® Tech Challenge Teams sponsored by the Arnold STEM program put on a scrimmage with the robots they’ve programmed to compete at the high school level. (Courtesy photo)

Four FIRST® Tech Challenge Teams sponsored by the Arnold Air Force Base STEM Program scrimmage with the robots they’ve programmed to compete at the high school level at the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Qualifying Tournament in December 2017 at Coffee County Raider Academy, Manchester. The Hands-On Science Center of Tullahoma will begin managing the Air Force STEM Program in March. (Courtesy photo)

Jere Matty (far right), Arnold Air Force Base Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Center coordinator, records history with Bel Aire Elementary School in Tullahoma by taking a photo after speaking to the group about planets and stars using the Discovery Dome. The Discovery Dome is one of the learning tools that will be transferred to the Hands-on Science Center in Tullahoma through and Air Force STEM Program partnership. (Courtesy photo)

Jere Matty (far right), Arnold Air Force Base Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Center coordinator, records history with Bel Aire Elementary School in Tullahoma by taking a photo after speaking to the group about planets and stars using the Discovery Dome. The Discovery Dome is one of the learning tools that will be transferred to the Hands-on Science Center in Tullahoma through and Air Force STEM Program partnership. (Courtesy photo)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- As the Arnold Air Force Base Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Center closes, the Hands-On Science Center of Tullahoma picks up the baton. Through an Air Force partnership, learning tools and support will transfer to the HOSC, continuing STEM support to regional youth.

“For years the Arnold AFB STEM Program has been checking out our equipment to schools, STEM teams and individuals through our STEM Lending Library,” said Jere Matty, Arnold AFB STEM Center coordinator. “This equipment [Arnold AFB STEM Program] will now be managed by the Hands-On Science Center who will continue to support local schools, STEM Teams and individuals who are interested in furthering their love of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”

The budget for STEM outreach at Arnold AFB increased in fiscal year 2018 over what was received in fiscal year 2017, and by consolidating the Air Force program with the HOSC in March, the program administrators will be able to leverage resources to reach a greater number of students, teachers and schools.

The HOSC is expected to receive a Discovery Dome for viewing planet and star constellations, wind tunnels, a vacuum bell jar, 3D printer, rocket launchers, robot kits and many other items.

The Arnold STEM center is known for supporting STEM events and the local school teams who participate.

“STEM teams and activities will also continue to be supported to include the FIRST® LEGO® Robotics Program, CyberPatriots, StellarXplorers, STEM Aviation, Civil Air Patrol Glider Academy, NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, MathCounts® and others.”

Accessing the equipment is expected to be an easier process, according to Matty.

“I believe that the ease of access afforded by the Hands-On Science Center being located off base will increase the number of students and STEM teams that can be supported,” he said. “The Arnold AFB STEM program will also have the ability to support the large number of students and teachers that regularly visit the HOSC and make use of the wide variety of STEM equipment that the Air Force can provide. We are planning the transition such that the STEM Programs and teams supported by the Arnold AFB STEM Program will continue uninterrupted.

“The professionals at the Hands-On Science Center are very enthusiastic in their support of STEM, and we believe this partnership with the Air Force will greatly increase the quality and number of students and teachers involved in both programs for years to come.”

The non-profit HOSC serves 11 counties in the Middle Tennessee area according to the Center website.

“The number of students that get to participate in STEM activities will be greatly increased,” said Deb Wimberley, the HOSC executive director. “We host field trips and after-school programs for many schools, and these students will get a chance to see new demonstrations and participate in STEM programming here at the Hands-On Science Center.”

Beverly Lee, a former member of the HOSC Board of Directors, shared similar thoughts as Wimberley.

“With new exhibits, programs, and the network of educators familiar with the STEM resources Mr. Matty has showcased over the years, the Center should see a dramatic increase in field trips, STEM nights, and programs in robotics, math, rocketry and aerospace engineering,” Lee said. “Our families will have state-of-the-art STEM learning opportunities, camps, experiments and special events, available locally without having to travel to Nashville.”

Arnold AFB STEM teams received volunteer assistance in technical subjects which will be continued through the HOSC.

“Over 22 years ago, the engineers and scientists at AEDC [Arnold AFB], UTSI and community helped build the Hands-On Science Center,” Lee said. “The Center relies on these volunteers with their incredible technical expertise to teach, manage programs, build exhibits and share their love of science. With our volunteers, the incredible STEM resources, and a closer collaboration with the Air Force, the Hands-On Science Center will serve as a premier STEM center in Middle Tennessee. The Hands-On Science Center volunteers can now take a basic concept, teach and mentor youth, and discuss college and career opportunities with the technology resources right in their hands igniting that spark of possibilities and making this world a better place.”

To volunteer or for more information about Air Force STEM program at the HOSC, call (931) 455-8387 or email hosc@lighttube.net; or visit the website at www.hosc.org.