SC4 wins national Innovation of the Year Award for its Experience Center

St. Clair County Community College has received an Innovation of the Year Award from the League for Innovation in the Community College for its work in establishing its interactive, STEAM-based Experience Center. The college won the award in the category of Community Engagement Education and Forward-thinking Partnerships.

This year, the League nationally awarded 57 winners, including just four from Michigan. SC4 team members recognized for their work on the Experience Center include President Dr. Deborah A. Snyder, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kirk Kramer, Executive Director of Budget and Project Management Becky Gentner, Institutional Technology Manager Spencer Hazlewood, Project and Purchasing Manager Jessica Smith, Professor of Physical Science Suzanne Doherty, and Professor of Biology Carrie Dollar. Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum Director Mel Drumm also was recognized.

“We are honored to receive this award,” says Dr. Snyder. “The Experience Center is a place where students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members of all ages can feel engaged and inspired. We are grateful for the continued support, collaboration and leadership of our community, here on campus and far beyond.”

SC4 is one of more than 1,100 community colleges in the United States, which in total enroll nearly half of all undergraduates in the nation — just over 13 million students, according to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

SC4 announced an official partnership with the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and its Unity in Learning initiative on the 16,000-square-foot center in fall 2018. The center — the only one of its kind in the region — provides interactive teaching and learning opportunities for students and guests of all ages through exhibits, field trips and educational programming opportunities.

Located in the college’s Clara E. Mackenzie Building, the center strengthens the college’s ability to engage and serve current students, attract future students to campus, and serve as a regional center of experiential learning for the community. It features interactive displays, traveling exhibits, 3-D pens and technology, a circuit center, a coding station, a virtual reality simulation, an augmented reality sandbox, a fossil dig area and larger-than-life exhibits in its Dr. Bassam H. Nasr Science Museum — including a woolly rhinoceros skeleton replica, T-Rex and Mastodon skull replicas.

“The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum and SC4 share a vision to bring the excitement of learning to as many individuals as possible,” said Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum Director Mel Drumm in a release launching the Experience Center partnership. “We are pleased to collaborate with such a well-respected and forward-thinking community college partner, and we look forward to expanding interactive learning opportunities for Michigan students and residents.”

Future Experience Center enhancements include a Jacob’s Ladder display that highlights the power of electricity and a gifted Tarbosauras skeleton cast thanks to the SC4 Foundation and two Community Foundation of St. Clair County donor advised funds.

Additionally, the Experience Center is a growing regional field trip destination, partnering with the St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) to ensure field trips seamlessly align with K-12 science-based curricula in the region. For more information on scheduling a visit, please send an email to experiencecenter@sc4.edu.

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