On Thursday, January 26, 2023, Athens State University hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony with the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the opening of the Northrop Grumman Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Learning Lab on its campus.
The lab received vital technological upgrades thanks to a significant donation from Northrop Grumman last year. The donation allowed for the University to purchase a smart board, robotics, coding tools, and various STEM materials to better prepare pre-service teachers for the classroom.
The Northrop Grumman STEM Learning Lab is designed to provide teacher candidates experience in a hands-on approach for teaching STEM and ensure they are ready for the challenges they will face once entering the classroom. Athens State trains pre-service teachers how to take STEM exploration beyond a set lesson, teaching them how to guide their future students as they develop problem-solving skills, develop their individual skills, explore options, and cooperate with other students. While teacher candidates are in the lab, they take part in demonstrating lessons and strategies they will use during their internships and future careers.
We thank Northrop Grumman for their commitment to high quality science and math education through their support of this engaging STEM lab.Dr. Lee Vartanian, Interim Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs
“Northrop Grumman has provided our College of Education teacher candidates a new and exciting learning opportunity with their support of our STEM lab,” said Dr. Marla Williams, Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Athens State University. “I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to develop and promote STEM learning at Athens State University for our K-6 teacher candidates. STEM exploration works wonders for the minds of children, specifically in the areas of problem-solving, trial-and-error, and collaboration. I am very thankful to Northrop Grumman for their support and for providing our teacher candidates access to STEM educational tools and lessons.”
Athens State University understands the importance of engaging children in active STEM learning at an early age. When children engage in exploration-based STEM learning, it improves their critical thinking skills, higher-order thinking skills, problem-solving, and perseverance for completing a task. “Early exposure to engineering and technology programs in the lab will help teachers create an environment for student collaboration and hands-on STEM education,” said Dr. Erica Hopkins, K-12 STEM and Workforce Development Lead at Northrop Grumman. “They will also create opportunities for their students to engage with real-world engineers, providing a glimpse of what a career in STEM could look like, which is especially important for underrepresented minorities.”
Northrop Grumman’s donation provided the technology and supplies needed for Athens State to update the STEM Learning Lab and provide hands-on training and experience to an estimated 1,000 teacher candidates and early in-service teachers over the next five years. The support of Northrop Grumman ensures the University is well-equipped to train future STEM educators who will instruct the next generation of engineers and problem solvers.