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Tech-disadvantaged K-12 students to benefit from AT&T Foundation gift to Coca-Cola Space Science Center - Columbus State University Skip to Main Content

Tech-disadvantaged K-12 students to benefit from AT&T Foundation gift to Coca-Cola Space Science Center

November 3, 2022

K-12 students at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center

A $25,000 contribution from the AT&T Foundation will help Columbus State University to continue serving area K-12 students with high-quality, high-touch STEM learning at its Coca-Cola Space Science Center. Through the foundation’s gift, the center will create three new space-based interactive simulation and gaming exhibits that will become long-term additions to its visitor gallery.

“We are excited to partner with AT&T on this project as we seek to make our exhibit gallery more interactive for our visiting students and community guests,” said Dr. Shawn Cruzen, executive director of the Coca-Cola Space Science Center and a professor in CSU’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences.

Cruzen explained that the space-themed games and simulations funded through the AT&T Foundation partnership will be very engaging, while also helping participants learn about planetary science and space exploration. They will stimulate greater interest in space and astronomy, and provide a fun, engaging method for introducing and enforcing digital learning and STEM concepts for students and families.

Specifically, the three interactive gaming exhibits will focus on rocket building by simulating the construction and launch of rockets that differ in size and capabilities; a Mars rover and helicopter simulation that allows visitors to explore the surface of Mars for signs of life; and a lunar lander that celebrates NASA’s new Artemis program while honoring the legacy of the Apollo missions. The exhibits—expected to be installed in the center’s main exhibit gallery by Fall 2023—will be available to K-12 students during school field trips to the center and to all walk-in visitors.

Through its foundation and philanthropic initiatives and partnerships, AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities, and improving lives. This is especially true for its focus on developing programs that bridge the digital divide and provide resources to those from underserved populations.

“AT&T is proud to support Columbus State University to provide opportunities for students to access digital learning, develop new skills and discover STEM career fields,” said Tianna Evola, AT&T regional director of external affairs. “Together with Columbus State University and the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, we are inspiring learners of all ages and connecting students to a future of possibilities.”

As part of its companywide $2 billion commitment from 2021 to 2023 to address the digital divide, the company launched AT&T Connected Learning to invest in connectivity and technology, digital literacy and education solutions to help today’s learners succeed inside and outside of the classroom.

Around 40% of Coca-Cola Space Science Center’s visitors fall into minority groups historically underrepresented in STEM careers. Just among the Muscogee County School District students who visit the center annually, more than 50% are from Title I, high-poverty schools. Many of these students lack home access to technology for educational purposes. The new AT&T Foundation-funded simulation and gaming exhibits will increase these students’ comfort levels with using different technologies and accessing online educational resources.

AT&T has been a loyal corporate and philanthropic partner with Columbus State for more than 30 years.

“Thanks to AT&T and the AT&T Foundation’s enduring support, Columbus State, our students and our outreach educational programs that serve the community have benefited greatly,” said Dr. Rocky Kettering, CFRE, CSU’s vice president for university advancement. “This support has specifically enhanced programs focused on high school retention, college-to-workforce readiness, and career development—especially for non-traditional and underserved students.”

Annually, nearly 40,000 visitors from Columbus and around the world benefit from the Coca-Cola Space Science Center’s mission to inspire and educate the next generation of scientists, engineers, and science educators and communicators. Since opening in 1996, its galleries, aerospace artifacts, and science education programs have fostered the public’s appreciation for science and technology, as well as advanced scientific literacy throughout our community. 

The center maintains a close partnership with the local Muscogee County School District. In 2014, the center and school district formally expanded their original partnership to include annual center outreach to all 17,000-plus Columbus-area K-6 students—making it an exemplar among university/local school system science education partnerships in the U.S. Its educational outreach programs center around the STEM fields—especially astronomy and space exploration, ongoing professional development for K-12 STEM educators, and more recently, robotics in concert with CSU’s new Robotics Engineering program.

For more information about the Coca-Cola Space Science Center, visit