Through programming designed to meet the needs of pre-school, elementary and middle-school aged children, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate provides students with activities to develop and practice the skills needed for future academic and professional success, said Hillary Spencer, the CEO of The Children’s Museum of the Upstate. Programming is delivered through hands-on, play-based learning opportunities during outreach lessons that museum staff conducts in schools throughout the Upstate.
“TCMU currently teaches engineering curriculum with lessons designed to engage grades K-2 with engineering challenges tied to popular fairy tales and works with the students on solutions they design to solve problems,” Spencer said. “Likewise, a lesson for 3rd-5th grades focuses on trial and error while building simple machines, using Rigamajig sets, while exploring the engineering process. Energy lessons are delivered with hands-on opportunities for students to experiment with electricity, create circuits, and work with conductive materials.”
The money from the Duke Energy Foundation was part of $340,000 in grants given out to support South Carolina K-12 education programs focused on summer reading loss, STEM and experiential learning. Given the COVID-19 crisis, the Foundation has given each grantee the opportunity for additional flexibility and the option to use the funds to address unforeseen operational challenges.
“Nonprofits are on the frontlines of the pandemic response. Having the flexibility to move funds where they are needed most right now is critical to their success,” said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy South Carolina president. “Funding these programs is significant, but helping organizations survive now so they can continue to deliver these services down the road just makes sense.”
Together SC, the state alliance that brings nonprofit organizations and their staffs together to help strengthen the state’s nonprofit community, understands firsthand the needs nonprofits are facing and the value of flexibility.
“Duke Energy’s thoughtful decision to permit grantees to redirect grant funds to more urgent COVID-19 needs is a brilliant move,” said Madeleine McGee, Together SC president. “These funds may well be what gets these organizations and those they serve through the next few months.”
“Students in low-income schools need these types of lessons most, but often have issues accessing the museum due to financial barriers,” Spencer said. “With outreach scholarship support, TCMU can provide this access to energy and engineering curriculum that they may not otherwise be able to experience.”
Last year, more than 7,300 students were impacted by outreach visits specific to science and engineering themes, she said.
“Students are encouraged to ask questions, define the problem, construct explanations, and design solutions,” Spencer said.