Governor's Office for Local Development
Governor Recommends $400,000 ARC Grant for Science Center Exhibit

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, May 07, 2008  
Contact Information:  Cindy Lanham

FRANKFORT, KY (May 7, 2008) – Gov. Steve Beshear, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office for Local Development (GOLD), has announced his recommendation for the approval of a $400,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant which, along with allocated state funds, will assist in the construction of a permanent interactive exhibit for the East Kentucky Science Center (EKSC) in Prestonsburg. 

The new display, called Energy Transformations, will focus on increasing the understanding and awareness of energy concepts with the intention of promoting interest in math and science education and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.  The modular exhibit can be added to over time or partially offered for lease to other institutions. The center currently spends anywhere between 15-25% of its annual operating budget to lease quality interactive exhibits. 

Governor Beshear and GOLD Commissioner Tony Wilder toured the facility Tuesday and met with students and teachers from Jackson Independent Schools, EKSC Staff and Board Members and local elected officials to discuss the value of the center and the relevance of the new display.  Former Gov. Paul Patton and former First Lady Judy Patton also attended the announcement for the grant recommendation.  Gov. Patton’s administration played a significant role in acquiring funding for the initial research for and development of the EKSC. 

Governor Beshear commended the science center for its multiple roles in advancing the state’s economy and preparing students in the region for high-tech careers.  “With the addition of a permanent Energy Transformations exhibit to the East Kentucky Science Center, we see the alignment of three key issues critical to Kentucky’s future.  First, improving the math and science skills of our children.  Second, promoting the public’s understanding of energy production, supply, conservation and use.  And finally, drawing additional tourism to this region.” 

First incorporated in 1996, the EKSC was established in response to low achievement scores in math and science for all grade levels in school testing throughout the East Kentucky region.  The Center serves Appalachian region citizens in eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, and western Virginia through exhibits, planetarium programs, laser shows, professional development and educational camps and clubs.  Each year, more than 10,000 people from over 22 Kentucky counties and 16 states visit the EKSC. 

The EKSC’s energy exhibit project is consistent with ARC strategic goals that strive to accomplish self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life for the communities and citizens of Appalachian Kentucky.  The state’s 51 most eastern and south-central counties qualify for ARC funding.  Grant applications are submitted to GOLD for review and require the governor’s recommendation for approval before submission to ARC.  No project activity can begin until final federal approval from ARC.

An Exhibit Advisory Group consisting of EKSC staff and board members, local teachers and volunteer patrons developed the concept for Energy Transformations.  The Cincinnati Museum Center designed the initial exhibit concept in collaboration with Exhibit Advisory Group, the Floyd County Fiscal Court, Chesapeake Energy, Interstate Natural Gas and the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Corporation.