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Weekend edition September 08, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Muse Knoxville celebrates 10 years of STEM fun

As the Knoxville Chamber works to bring high-paying technology jobs to the area, it's places like Muse Knoxville that first get kids interested in the skills it will take to fill those future jobs.

If there’s one place in Knoxville that knows how to instill a love of science through the power of play, it’s Muse Knoxville. This year, the hands-on science museum and learning center is celebrating ten years of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fun.

“I am thrilled beyond words as we celebrate Muse Knoxville’s remarkable journey to our tenth birthday,” said Executive Director Allison Comer. “Over the last decade, we’ve seen a remarkable evolution in our STEM educational programs, transforming from a nascent idea into a thriving institution that inspires and empowers all children through transformative learning experiences.”

Those experiences held strong during a 10th birthday party celebration at Muse Knoxville last month, with party hat decorating and cupcake icing stations, a donated cake from VG’s bakery, and countless renditions of kid-belted ‘Happy Birthday,’ sung nearly every hour.

“Ten years for me is a big milestone because think about all the organizations or companies that didn’t even make it to that point,” said Director of Organizational Development and Marketing Tyrone Beach. “We’re actually in the schools. We don’t just do field trips at our museum, but we go and do lessons in classrooms. We do STEAM nights after school, we do all types of things. Being a connector of the community helped us elevate our work.”

“From our humble beginnings, we’ve now grown to offer daily family programs, captivating planetarium shows included with admission, and a huge array of year-round special events that celebrate what we do best: science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics through the power of play,” said Comer.

As the Knoxville Chamber works to bring high-paying technology jobs to the area, Beach said it’s places like Muse Knoxville that first get kids interested in the skills it will take to fill those future jobs.

“Our kids need to be exposed to those types of things,” he said. “So having a 3D printer within our museum donated by the Tickle College of Engineering at UT and having those different types of technologies on our floor really opens the eyes of kids. I think we’re able to help expose kids to those jobs, and even careers that we don’t even know about yet. What will STEM look like 10 years from now? What will our exhibits look like 10 years from now? Will we have an exhibit that talks about transportation? Or will we have an exhibit that focuses on engineering and building? We don’t know.”

But Muse Knoxville is always growing and adding exhibits to train kids for the future in fun ways. Beach said the word they’re focusing on for the next ten years is “expansion,” expanding space, reach, and opportunities.

“I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved,” said Comer. “But, at this pivotal moment, we stand at an exciting crossroads. With our tenth birthday, we’re not only looking back with pride but also gazing ahead to a bigger, brighter future, where we can reach even more children, caregivers, and educators, and continue to ignite the flames of curiosity and learning in the hearts of all those who walk through our doors. The next decade promises to be an exhilarating chapter in our mission to make STEM accessible, engaging, and fun for everyone.”

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