A major new non-profit initiative has just been announced for downtown Gastonia – the Gaston County STEM Center. With the Charlotte region now ranked the 3rd best place in America for STEM job growth, the timing couldn’t be better.
Gaston County STEM Education and Outreach Center, a resource center for students, parents, and educators, will open June 24, 2018, at 1349 East Garrison Blvd. in Garrison Professional Park. Registration is now open for summer programs at www.gcstemed.org.
The STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) center will offer summer camps, weekend camps, after-school programs, and tutoring to students in the Gastonia area, as well as a science-inspired half-day preschool program. Camps for middle and high schoolers will begin in June of 2018, and will include topics in mathematics, engineering, chemistry, astronomy, coding, and a STEAM (where the ‘A’ stands for “arts”) camp on the mathematics of music.
Tutoring and afternoon programs will begin in August 2018. For the 2018-2019 school year, the STEM center will offer weekly Math Circles for 6th-12th graders to give students a chance to explore interesting topics in mathematics and hone their problem-solving skills. In future years the center plans to offer physics and engineering circles, as well as research opportunities for advanced high school students.
Gaston County STEM Education and Outreach Center is founded and directed by Ashley Walls White, a Gastonia native and Ashbrook High School graduate. White recently completed her PhD in mathematics at N.C. State University, and is looking forward coming back to Gastonia with her family. Dr. White and her husband, Zachary White, have two small children that were the inspiration for the center’s preschool program, Science Tots. Science Tots will offer two- or three-days-a-week programs for 2-4 years olds that will inspire toddlers to explore the world like scientists.
“We are excited to return to Gaston County, which will be a wonderful place for my husband and me to raise our children,” White said. “It’s exciting to see my home county growing like it is now, and I hope my center will add to the quality of life in Gaston. We are leaving Cary, which has enough of everything. It’s gratifying to return home and do our part to help Gaston evolve and to inspire other young people to stay or return after college.”
Dr. White said her decision to operate a non-profit center will also help the community.
“We didn’t want to open a chain or franchise tutoring service,” she said. “We are going to operate a non-profit organization, where we can adjust to help our students when necessary, and not have to focus on profits. We want to serve the community. We also plan to operate camps, such as science and astronomy and coding camps, to foster love of learning by making it fun.”