The University of Nebraska at Omaha, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and Omaha Public Schools (OPS) have teamed up to inspire the next generation of Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) students by bringing hands-on traveling science exhibit “Science on a Sphere” to Omaha.
This exhibit, which was designed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), consists of several computers, four projectors and a six-foot sphere that hangs from the ceiling.
According to NOAA’s website, visitors are able to explore Earth’s atmosphere, land and climate by using the computers to project animated images onto the sphere, which acts like a giant globe.
The exhibit is designed to teach students of all ages about Earth’s environment through the use of innovative technology not found in a traditional classroom or textbook.
According to Neil Grandgenette, UNO’s Haddix Community Chair of STEM Education, exposure to technology like the software used to operate the Science on a Sphere exhibit is key to helping the next generation solve Earth’s environmental problems.
“Technology is such a powerful tool for problem solving and understanding complex concepts,” Grandgenette said. “We need to make sure all students … have the technology and computational thinking experiences needed to truly contribute to solving the global challenges that face us all.”
For this reason, Grandgenette said that he was excited when contacted by MCC’s Do Space and Continuing Education Coordinator, Chris Swanson, who wanted to form a financial partnership with UNO and bring Science on a Sphere to MCC’s new location at Do Space, located on 72nd and Dodge.
“We were looking for a really great way to kick off the space,” Swanson said. “Our director reached out to NOAA to see what the availability was of Science on a Sphere. They said we could have it, so Metro reached out to UNO and OPS to help make it happen,”
NOAA has 130 Science on a Sphere exhibits permanently installed around the world as well as two traveling displays. According to Swanson, this will be the first time the exhibit is displayed in Nebraska and the second time it’s been hosted by a community college.
According to Grandgenette, UNO, MCC and OPS students will have the opportunity to visit the exhibit and will hopefully feel inspired to pursue careers in a STEM related field.
“This kind of visually stunning scientific exhibit gets learners of all ages, including we faculty, increasingly excited about how science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) can help us to understand and potentially solve many of our world’s problems,” Grandgenette said.
UNO STEM professor Carol En-gelmann has the same goal of inspiring her students, which is why she plans to take two of her classes to visit the exhibit.
“I teach people that are planning to be teachers,” Engelmann said. “I think being given the opportunity to see a six-foot model of Earth will get them excited to use science in their classrooms and passionate to share it with their students.”
The Science on a Sphere exhibit will be displayed on the second level of Do Space from Jan. 28 to Feb. 11 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’s free and open to the public. If you would like to schedule a group visit, con-tact Chris Swanson at csswanson@ mccneb.edu.