Last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning revolutionized the gameday experience for their fans when they unveiled the highly-anticipated Tesla Coils, which brought a signature in-game element to the arena that also bridged a connection between hockey and science.
But on Thursday, the Bolts and Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) took that relationship one step further, unveiling a new permanent exhibit funded by a $525,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to help foster early education.
It’s called Slippery Science, and it’s the first element of a new preschool education program at MOSI.
The idea is to use science to engage young children in active exploration and to address the need to create interest in science and math through scientific inquiry and critical thinking skills, which serve as the foundation for PNC’s Passport To Science initiative.
Dave Andreychuk and preschoolers from Hillsborough's Head Start program cut the ribbon to the new exhibit.
“It was an easy fit,” Lightning CEO Tod Leiweke said of partnering with MOSI for the event. “We thought it was a terrific way to educate our young children about physics, science and math, while at the same time spreading the word about the great game of hockey. It’s a really cool project for us and hopefully the kids will think it’s really cool too.”
Opening officially on December 2, the display is located inside Kids In Charge!, MOSI’s children’s science center, and will include a series of interactive exhibits that teach friction, physics, the science behind reaction time and other elements associated with the game of hockey. The exhibit also features images of the Tampa Bay Times Forum and hockey team design elements, which will serve as a backdrop to enhance the experience.
After a series of introductions was made at an opening press conference featuring Leiweke as well as PNC regional president for Florida West Joe Meterchick and MOSI president Wit Ostrenko, several preschool children participated in a ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony, and then shortly after were able to go explore the exhibit for themselves.
Inside there were interactive games, as well as different stations outlining the process by which the arena is converted into a sheet of ice, the science of collision which coincided with a display regarding how to properly wear hockey equipment, and the study of reaction time in terms of how it relates to Lightning players during a game.
In addition, it also features accompanying take-home activities and educator-led STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) investigations for children, parents and teachers, an interactive website, lesson plans for educators and MOSI-generated preschool science explorations for parent-generated activities.
“It’s a fabulous thing,” Ostrenko added. “Our work with the PNC Foundation and the Lightning allows us to continue connecting with children’s curiosity.”