Springfield organizations, COSI distribute science kits and meals to students, nonprofits

Part of mission is to involve kids in STEAM while they’re young.

Over 1,400 learning kits were distributed to local students and nonprofits Friday in Springfield.

The Springfield Museum of Art, Lincoln Elementary and other local nonprofits teamed up with the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) Columbus as part of the Ohio distance learning Initiative to distribute “learning lunchboxes.”

COSI and local public officials helped distribute over 1,400 free STEAM — science, technology, engineering, art and math — kits and free weekend meals to students at Lincoln Elementary and local nonprofits in Springfield.

“We are so grateful to have so many community partners like COSI and the Springfield Museum of Art and everybody who was involved in making this event possible,” said Jenna Leinasars, communication specialist for Springfield City Schools.

Leinasars said teachers can send the STEAM kits home with the students or use them in the classroom.

“This distribution also gets our students engaged in STEAM at a young age. At the elementary school level, kids are able to grow a passion for these budding careers, which will only put them ahead of the game as they move into middle school, high school and beyond,” she said.

Stephen White, chief strategy officer at COSI, said with their partnership with the museum and local foodbank, they were able to give NASA kits to students so they can build their own moon bases and rockets.

“COSI’s here to really partner with the Springfield Museum of Art to be able to help serve the community on the education front because we know the pandemic has created some challenges around learning and that there’s gaps that have been formed. We know that if we make education fun and exciting, we can help bridge that gap,” he said.

This is COSI’s seventh stop as part of the learning initiative where they give kits to students and nonprofits.

“Local nonprofits across Springfield are receiving kits to help support learning in their afterschool programming and being able to not only do fun, exciting kits around space, but they also feature the great work that’s happening at the Springfield Museum of Art as well,” White said.

The kits also had an added art component. The Springfield Museum of Art provided social-emotional art journaling kits and reproductions of artwork from the Smithsonian Art Museum, and a guided journaling booklet to help families explore feelings during pandemic challenges.

“We know that schools are charged to do more with less now more than ever, and with the addition of COVID, truly schools being able to operate has been a heroic act over the past year. We’re here to try to support that. We know that schools cannot do everything and provide all the learning for children across communities, and the organizations like the museum and COSI need and do play a critical roll in the learning eco structure of our communities,” said Jessimi Jones, executive eirector of the Springfield Museum of Art.

Several public officials attended the distribution to help hand out kits, including Springfield City Commissioner David Estrop.

“Our future is right here with these kids... We need them to be as well fed as well educated and as well motivated as possible. When we partner and we bring all these resources to the table, it’s a tremendous lift for not only Lincoln but all of Springfield as well to continue to build and move forward as a community,” he said.

The Ohio Distance Learning Initiative is a program led by COSI to deliver free, hands-on science kits with a specific theme that provide STEAM activities.

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