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STEM Center Dealing With COVID Budget Cuts

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
STEM Center Dealing With COVID Budget Cuts

Tennessee Tech STEM Center Director Darek Potter said his center has experienced budget cuts because of the pandemic.

Potter said the center is doing some “belt tightening” but expects to be able to keep going and serving the community. Potter said community events have been cancelled since the pandemic hit, and affected programs with local schools.

“Before COVID hit, typically hosted two schools a week, from 60 to 90 students per school that would come to the STEM center and participate in STEM activities for like a three hour period with staff and student workers at the STEM center,” Potter said. “You know, since COVID hit that’s kind of been eliminated.”

Potter said making modifications for COVID has been more time consuming than difficult. Such as setting up plexiglass partitions, creating hand sanitizing stations and removing tables.

“We have a 240 seat auditorium, that now I think we can house 50,” Potter said. “Our classrooms have also really been reduced in space.”

Potter said keeping things going during the pandemic has been a team effort for the College of Education. Potter said he hopes that when the pandemic ends, the STEM center can return to opening its doors to the community.

“With COVID, it’s had a pretty large hit on our community outreach,” Potter said. “One thing that we did do right after school closures in March is we started a STEM at home program.”

Those programs were crafted by TTU’s College of Education and STEM Center staff. Those programs are still available online for kids through by clicking on Stem At Home.


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