When the Pacific Science Center’s Science on Wheels rolled in Jan. 23 to Highlands Elementary School, there wasn’t the usual crowd. The show travels from school to school in Washington state to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and STEM careers. But behind the students at this Renton school were adults in professional attire— representatives from Amazon, Pacific Science Center and nonprofit Washington STEM to announce a donation of $1 million to the science center and $1 million to the nonprofit.
“I want to take a minute to recognize two very special, local nonprofit organizations that are working to give access to students all across Washington,” Carletta Ooton, Amazon Vice President for safety, security, sustainability and compliance, told students at the assembly. “In fact, they are doing such a great job today that we are going to give them $2 million.”
Ooton also spoke about her love of science, how much she enjoyed it as a kid, and how it resulted in her job at Amazon. She said she wants everyone to enjoy science too.
Pacific Science Center President Will Daugherty and Washington STEM CEO Angela Jones were at the assembly to accept the donation. Both talked about longstanding partnerships with Amazon and how this money would help their programs.
Daugherty said he hopes the funding from Amazon will motivate state and country officials to also put money into Science on Wheels. The $1 million will support the addition of a computer science curriculum to Science on Wheels and expand the program to more low-income Title I schools in the state.
Angela Jones said Washington STEM will use the money to keep working with cities, taking data about STEM job availability and education opportunities, and offer resources to help young women, low-income students, rural students and students of color get the foundations they need to see STEM as an option.
At the assembly in Renton, Jones said the Science on Wheels program was a great example of making STEM exciting and possible.
During the Science on Wheels Performance, students learned about the test, design and re-design for several types of engineering. Then the performers taught lessons at different classes throughout the day.
The performers from the Pacific Science Center addressed the students as “scientists,” reinforcing the idea that STEM can be an accessible path if offered the right resources and opportunity.
“Everyone who is curious is a scientist,” Daugherty said.