The L. David Mounts Foundation has made a $2.25 million gift to Kaleideum to name the L. David Mounts Agile City Room and house the Mounts Robotics Center at Kaleideum; and fund and create an endowment for Prism, the museum’s engineering and innovation initiative. The gift includes a $500,000 challenge to businesses, individuals, and organizations within the community to encourage Pre-K through 12th grade students living and learning in greater Winston-Salem, NC, to participate in creative, inquiry-based STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) learning and exploration in an informal educational setting.
The Mounts Robotics Center provides high school students with facilities in which they can succeed in building robots and drones, and learn about integrated technology. It is currently housed in the Traveling Exhibit Hall at Kaleideum North, which will be renamed the L. David Mounts Agile City Room. Once the new Kaleideum opens at Third Street and Town Run Lane, the L. David Mounts Agile City Room and the Mounts Robotics Center will move to the new permanent location. The Prism initiative also will operate primarily from Kaleideum North until Kaleideum moves to the new downtown location where the program will be permanently housed.
David Mounts, chairman and CEO of Inmar Intelligence, which is headquartered in Winston-Salem, says: “The success of today’s children, regardless of what they choose to do in life, will be influenced greatly by their proficiency and comfort in STEAM areas.” He adds that, “We know this is true for future engineers and data scientists, but we also know that no area of life or field of work will be untouched by these areas. The earlier our children are exposed to STEAM, the greater their success will be. I am glad to partner with Kaleideum in its mission to further hands-on education in these areas to our children and community.”
In addition to the endowment from the L. David Mounts Foundation, Inmar Intelligence will loan engineering executives at no cost to Kaleideum to enable relevant programming. Prism’s core activities include ongoing STEAM programming and special events at the museum, STEAM summer camps, STEAM workshops, field trip programs, and robotics teams.
“With this transformational gift from the L. David Mounts Foundation, Kaleideum will cultivate a pervasive culture of engineering and innovation in our community through a wide array of learning opportunities,” says Elizabeth Dampier, Executive Director of Kaleideum. “Many of these programs will be free or include scholarships for participants from low income households while providing compelling introductory experiences that are welcoming to all.”
Jobs in technology, medicine, and other fields that lean heavily on STEAM knowledge are predicted to grow much faster than other occupations over the next decade. In addition, the soft skills encouraged in STEAM education, such as creative problem solving, collaboration, and critical thinking, are needed in almost every aspect of life.
The recent pandemic reinforced the importance of technology in work and leisure, and as a tool for social connection when in-person contact is not possible. Scientific knowledge and STEAM problem-solving are needed to solve many global challenges, from managing infectious diseases to transitioning to clean energy. The Prism initiative will institute a continuum of STEAM learning, fostering progression as students advance to more rigorous and engaging activities over time. It will also bolster STEAM learning for traditionally underserved populations such as girls, Black and Hispanic students, and students from low socioeconomic status households.
“We are working to maximize the number of learners who enthusiastically choose to persist in STEAM learning through increasingly complex programming levels,” Dampier says. “We want to grow and hone the skills required to succeed in — and invent — future careers by laying the foundation for inspiring the successful engineers and innovators our society needs.”
About Mounts Robotics Center
MRC, Inc. (“MRC”) is a North Carolina nonprofit corporation that is focused on enhancing education of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the surrounding Piedmont Triad region by fostering and supporting student interest in robotics and robotics competitions worldwide. MRC provides space to build and design, educate, meet, and lastly practice and prepare for competitions. MRC provides equipment and other resources and also supports mentors and student ability to access mentors with relevant professional experience who can teach both technical skills and gracious professionalism. MRC also provides other forms of support for student robotics and related endeavors.