Students from all over East Texas will be reaching for (and maybe even visiting) the stars, following a grant from the AT&T Foundation to the Center for Earth & Space Science Education at Tyler Junior College.  The $25,000 will fund educational programming and headline shows at the center, newly reopened in September following extensive renovation and technological upgrading.
State Senator Kevin Eltife encouraged AT&T Director of External Affairs for Northeast Texas Candice Gast to approach AT&T for the gift.
Recent studies indicate many students in recent years have been gravitating away from science and engineering careers, and that the success of our nation’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs depends on developing new and innovative methods of preparing and inspiring today’s students.  The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology suggested creating opportunities for inspiration through both individual and group experiences outside the classroom.
“For many East Texas schoolchildren the TJC Science Center is their first exposure to science and space exploration, and no doubt many of them are inspired by that experience,” said Eltife.  “The AT&T Foundation has made an investment not only in our students, but in our future scientists and explorers.”
“AT&T’s generous gift to TJC’s Earth and Science Education Center shows their continued commitment to STEM programs for students, which is a key focus of Tyler’s Industry Growth Initiative,” said Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass.  “We are grateful to have AT&T so active in our community.”
The AT&T Foundation is the presenting underwriter for two of the science center’s upcoming headline shows.  Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity, which will be shown February through April, and Tales of the Maya Skies is slated to run September through December 2012.  Tyler ISD pupils grades three through five will receive free admission to the science center.
“Thousands of visitors will experience the science center’s educational programs this year, with the majority of those visitors being elementary and middle school children,” said TJC Vice-President for Advancement and External Affairs Dr. Kim Russell. “It is imperative that we capture the imaginations of students at an early age and encourage them to consider advanced educational opportunities–and possibly even careers–in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.”
Candice Gast seconded this sentiment.
“This generous gift from the AT&T Foundation enables us to do just that,” she said.  “We are happy to support Tyler Junior College’s Center for Earth & Space Science Education.  The importance of education–particularly science education–is a main priority for AT&T.  With elected leaders such as Senator Eltife working in Austin to pave the way for education, AT&T is happy to do our part to invest in Texas’ future generations both in Tyler and around the state of Texas.”
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The AT&T Foundation presents a $25,000 gift to the Center for Earth & Space Science Education at Tyler Junior College, to be used for educational programming and headline shows to the center. From left: Dr. Mike Metke, TJC president; Candice Gast, AT&T director of external affairs for Northeast Texas; Barbara Bass, mayor of Tyler; Dr. Tom Hooten, director of the science center; Dr. Kim Russell, TJC vice president for advancement and external affairs; and Dr. Randy Reid, Tyler ISD superintendent. Photo courtesy of Allen Arrick/Tyler Junior College