NC science centers receive $6.3M for STEM education

The gardens in Arlie Garden. Photo: Arlie Gardens

The North Carolina Science Museums Grant Program has awarded 55 science centers, including nearly a dozen on the coast, a total of $6.3 million in special grants to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education.

“The North Carolina Science Museums Grant Program helps fund crucial science education across our state,” said D. Reid Wilson, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, in a statement. “This investment of federal funds by the legislature and the Governor will increase access to STEM experiences no matter where you live in North Carolina.”

Grants were awarded based on state-legislated criteria that promote the priorities of state government, with a primary goal of enhancing STEM education opportunities for the public, particularly in low-resource communities, officials said Wednesday.

Funding for these special grants is made possible by the federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, as directed by the 2021 state budget.

“The great work of these museums continues to place our state at the forefront of informal science education nationally and these grants support that endeavor,” said Darrell Stover, Head of the North Carolina Science Museums Grant Program at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

The awards ranged from $70,000 to $185,000 and will be applied to spending in a federal timeline for ARPA funding that covers expenditures from 2022 through 2025.

In Beaufort County, the Aurora Fossil Museum Foundation, Inc. received $173,163 and North Carolina Estuarium was awarded $129,396.

Bertie County’s Roanoke/Cashie River Center was awarded $150,637.

Ocean Isle Museum Foundation Inc. received $144,460, and Bald Head Island Conservancy $123,008, both in Brunswick County.

Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center in Carteret County was awarded $133,851.

In New Hanover County, Cape Fear Museum of History and Science received $111,691.76, Airlie Garden received $108,078 and Wilmington Children’s Museum, Inc. was awarded $89,760.

Sturgeon City of Jacksonville in Onslow County was awarded $109,192.

Pasquotank County’s Port Discover: Northeastern North Carolina’s Center for Hands-on Science $148,033.

For more information about the program and a full list of recipients, visit

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