COSI Connects Encourages At-Home Learning

Ally Melnik
COSI Connects allows children to work on STEM activities at home.

When the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools and local institutions this spring, COSI didn’t want to shut down its mission of educating Central Ohio about STEM.  Instead, the science center developed a way students could learn at home with the new COSI Connects program and its Teachback initiative.

Described as a “digital doorway for fun, at-home, science discovery and learning” by Stephen White, COSI’s vice president of external affairs, strategic initiatives and business development, COSI Connects is a free, online platform that offers daily STEM content and activities.

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From that effort came theCOSI Connects Teachback program, where kids complete one of the STEM activities, then teach it to a grown-up. The Teachback component is the product of a collaboration between COSI, the volunteer movement Can’t Stop Columbus and Nationwide’s Innovation group. “When we heard about the Can’t Stop Columbus movement and the partnership, we thought it was a great opportunity to collaborate,” White says. “Nationwide provided some of the critical research that was part of this, and out of that research, we learned that parents in particular were looking for ways to not only see what their kids were learning from home but ways they can engage with them.”

COSI Connects’ lessons that feature a Teachback option range from art and cooking to biology and physics. They can be found atcosi.org/connects, as well as on the venue’s free mobile app. “There’s a full guide that the public can get access to, and then when they click on each individual activity, they’ll see a specific Teachback that you can access,” White says. “So once [kids] complete their fun activity, they can teach that activity back to their parents and back to their teachers.”

White says given the amount of positive feedback received, the program will continue even after COSI reopens in mid-July. “We’ve seen a tremendous amount of interest from the COSI Connects platform and the Teachback as well, and families across the community are using it on a daily basis … because we know that education is more important now than ever,” White says.

A shorter version of this story appears in “Parent Pulse” in our Summer 2020 issue.