The public is invited to attend the Patterson Science Center Open House on Thursday, August 16, 4:00 to 6:00 pm. The new Caldwell County Schools Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) center is located on the campus of Patterson School, along the scenic Highway 268 corridor in the Happy Valley area. With limited parking onsite, a free shuttle service is offered to visitors from Happy Valley School, only 3.5 miles from the Patterson campus.

Starting this school year, students in grades K-8 will experience one-day STEAM trips to the Patterson Science Center, a unique site filled with age-appropriate, hands-on activities and studies in all STEAM areas, but primarily in science. The school-year programs will be expanded to students in grades 9-12 in 2013-2014.

Currently, the center is managed by site director Amy Bradley who holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in biology at Western Carolina University and is credentialed with three Master's degrees from Appalachian State University, one in Middle School Science, another in Curriculum and Instruction and the most recent in School Administration. Bradley has been instrumental in writing and developing the high school Forensics Science course taught in the Caldwell County Schools and other surrounding school districts. She has 14 years of teaching experience in the school district . The center is also staffed with a teacher assistant, Jennifer Biddix and agriculture instructor Reid Ledbetter.

Besides daily use by students during the school year, the science center will accommodate young science enthusiasts in the summer months by offering summer enrichment camps for students. It will also be a center for teacher training and development in STEAM curriculum. When students participate in daily trips to the center, the connection to the center continues as teachers reinforce STEAM activities - aligned with Common Core and NC Essential Standards - in the classroom.

The school district has securedgrant funds specifically designated for the Patterson Science Center and will continue to seek grant funds and partnership opportunities with higher education in support of the science center. The Board of Education negotiated a lease agreement for eight years with the Patterson Foundation to rent and use three buildings - Stoney, Van Noppen and Hickory Hall - on the Patterson campus.

The program will have access to most of the scenic 1,400 acres at Patterson to incorporate science and nature studies. Students throughout the district will have the opportunity to explore beyond the classroom and become engaged in experiential science, a direct first-person experience with the content and processes of science. As the program unfolds, the Board of Education will consider the possibility of developing the Patterson Center into a regional science center in an effort to share resources and invite surrounding counties to become more familiar with the nature and beauty of Caldwell County.