AT&T Foundation Supports Virtual Programming at CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center

Columbus, GA – In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center (CCSSC) has received a $25,000 contribution from the AT&T Foundation to support the development of new, virtual programming that will expand the center’s abilities to offer exciting, cutting-edge STEM education for students, the community and virtual guests around the globe. The CCSSC is Georgia’s only science center and museum dedicated to astronomy and space science, and typically serves tens of thousands of guests annually. However, the coronavirus outbreak has temporarily shuttered museums and science centers to in-person guests worldwide. Through this donation, the center will develop new, innovative programs in response to circumstances brought on by the pandemic.

“In the current circumstances, science centers and museums need to reimagine how to connect with their communities. This generous contribution from the AT&T Foundation will allow our team to pivot our offerings to new formats and continue to serve students and families in our community with engaging and inspiring experiences in science,” explained Dr. Shawn Cruzen, Executive Director of the CCSSC.

“We know our continued investment in Georgia is vital to connections – from students for educational opportunities to friends, family and loved ones on a daily basis to front line heroes amidst the pandemic,” said Rich Johnson, AT&T Georgia Assistant Vice President of External Affairs. “We are proud to work with CSU’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center to connect students, community members and visitors around the globe with exciting, virtual learning experiences in astronomy and space science. More than ever before, connecting people with resources needed to maintain a sense of normalcy is critical, and we are committed to supporting our Georgia communities.”

The contribution will enable the center to develop and present a variety of new opportunities for public engagement. These experiences include observing the night sky live via the internet using telescopes at the center’s WestRock Observatory. This will enable guests anywhere in the world to explore the Universe while interacting with astronomy experts from CCSSC.

Additionally, the center’s education team will develop new interactive activities for students and schools available in multiple formats, allowing the center to adapt readily to changing demands caused by the pandemic. These educational experiences will be available fully online in a live virtual classroom, in-person at schools (if permitted), or in-person at the center.

Finally, the CCSSC team will expand its live webcasts of space events, such as October’s encounter between NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and the asteroid Bennu. CCSSC webcasts will provide live views and interactive commentary from staff and former CSU students who now work in the space industry. Peter Bowden, President & CEO of VisitColumbusGA, shared, “We are very pleased to learn about this contribution and that the Coca-Cola Space Science Center continues to look for ways to provide great experiences with visitors — both local and from out of town. As we all look to reinvent ourselves in ways that we could never imagine, the CCSSC team are great examples of vision and imagination."

AT&T has been a significant supporter of CSU for almost 30 years. The funding priorities for the AT&T Foundation include high school retention programs and college/workforce readiness programs, especially for non-traditional and underserved students. The current donation will enable the CCSSC team to reach thousands of students and community members in the coming year.