TVA provides new exhibit and expands student access at Hands On!

Brandon Paykamian • Nov 5, 2019 at 5:51 PM

GRAY — Students from Elizabethton’s East Side Elementary School arrived at Hands On! Discovery Center Tuesday morning to check out a new permanent exhibit provided through a partnership with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Through a recent $10,000 grant, TVA provided the museum with its new, permanent Kinetic Wall exhibit, as well as free admission for 600 students throughout the region.

“Really, what kids are doing (with this exhibit) is learning about gravity, about kinetics, physics, and it's extremely open-ended, so there's a lot of experimentation that can happen along the way,” Hands On! CEO Andy Marquart said.

According to the museum, this new exhibit “puts investigation-based inquiry and systems thinking skills into action by using a large assortment of magnetic tracks, chutes, tubes, spinners and other features.”

“Guests will actually be building a track that they will use to test out different physics principals including energy, friction, inertia and gravity by using a variety of balls and letting them roll through the path the guest designed,” TVA Boone Dam Construction Manager Kevin McMillion said ahead of Tuesday’s unveiling.

Without the help of the TVA, Marquart said providing free admission and new exhibits like the Kinetic Wall would not be possible. In the past several years, he said the TVA has helped introduce new activities at the museum, as well as free field trip access to more than 2,500 Title 1 students.

“These students wouldn't be here without TVA funding. The grant monies that we receive offset their cost to the museum,” Marquart said. “So it's a really wonderful opportunity for them because, without that funding, they probably wouldn't be able to come to the museum.”

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