SBC Foundation Awards $30,000 to TASM

SBC Foundation Awards $30,000 to TASM

FLYING HIGH: Katheryn Pennington, the Tulsa Air and Space Museum executive director (left), and Dr. Kathy LaFortune, TASM board member, accept a model helicopter from Mike Cooper of SBC. Cooper also presented to the museum $30,000 from the SBC Foundation.

MATTHEW W. GROSS for GTR Newspapers

The Tulsa Air and Space Museum (TASM), poised to take off with the construction of its new Hangar One facility, is receiving a $30,000 SBC Excelerator grant from the SBC Foundation, the philanthropic arm of SBC Communications Inc., to help outfit a computer learning center in the new building.

Using the new equipment, visitors to the computer lab will have an opportunity to experience computer-simulated space and air travel and explore educational websites and view NASA programming. The lab will also be used for student’s classes and workshops for teachers.

“This grant from the SBC Foundation will enable us to replace some outdated computer equipment and greatly improve the teaching and learning capabilities of our museum,” says Katheryn Pennington, TASM Executive Director. “As we prepare to move ahead with our expansion plans, the timing of this grant could not have been better.”

Pennington says Tulsa employs 32,000 workers in the aerospace and aviation industry, which has nearly a $1 billion impact on Tulsa’s economy. “To be able to chronicle Tulsa’s rich aviation history and then use it as the teaching tool to provide hands-on learning opportunities for young people that might result in a rewarding science career is very gratifying,” she says.

Mike Cooper, SBC external affairs manager, said the Tulsa Air and Space Museum is helping to inspire young people from across the region to learn more about the aviation and space industries. Cooper credited Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune and his wife, Dr. Kathy LaFortune, who serve on TASM’s board of directors, as being instrumental in the growth of TASM.

“By using technology to showcase aviation and aerospace, TASM has a wonderful opportunity to attract more young people, especially women, into the fields of engineering and science,” Dr. LaFortune says. “I’m grateful for the SBC Foundation’s assistance in helping TASM expand its educational mission.”

Pennington says that exposing students to current technology through exhibits, robotics, and computer-simulated programs is an integral part of accomplishing TASM’s mission, which is to educate young people about math, science, and technology using an aerospace environment.

She says the disciplines of math and science and the field of aerospace are inexorably linked to the constantly changing world of technology. “Students visiting the museum must be made aware of how technology can impact and enhance their lives and then be inspired to think of how they may someday advance technology,” Pennington states. “The museum aspires to inspire possibilities by stimulating imagination while valuing knowledge.”

TASM is currently located in a 1940’s era 14,000 square-foot hangar provided by the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology. The new larger museum is being built with privately donated funds and targeted for opening in the Summer 2005. Hangar One is in the beginning stages of construction on the north side of the Tulsa International Airport. The new location, across the street from the entrance to the very-popular Mohawk Park, Tulsa Zoo, and Oxley Nature Center, will greatly increase the museum’s visibility in the community and will enable TASM to better serve school-aged children by providing a full-day field trip between the various facilities.

After Hangar One is completed, construction will begin on the Electric Sky, a digital dome video theater. The Electric Sky will be built by international planetarium provider Spitz, Inc. and will include the latest seamless dome style construction. This advanced theater will visually transport the audience anywhere in the universe, from the molecules in a raindrop to the heart of a distant galaxy. The science presentations will include the latest advances in video projection to provide the next generation with a look at astronomy and our universe. Children will view the night sky, track satellites, asteroids, and comets and travel anywhere within 20,000 light years of the solar system. The completion date is Fall 2005, and the construction cost is estimated at $2.6 million. Vision 2025, the city’s 1-cent sales tax plan, is providing $2 million of the needed funding.

SBC Excelerator is a major philanthropic initiative that connects the nation’s neediest residents, including at-risk youth and underserved urban families, to important community resources. The program empowers nonprofits to use technology to expand the reach of services and heighten the impact those services have on people in the community.

SBC Excelerator was founded on the idea that technology access and resources can improve the lives of people in communities across the nation. In 2004, the SBC Foundation distributed more than $8 million in SBC Excelerator grants to community-based organizations. Earlier this year, the SBC Foundation announced three national SBC Excelerator grants to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the national Urban League and the AMBER Alert Plan.

This year, the SBC Foundation awarded SBC Excelerator grants to seven Oklahoma organizations. In addition to the grant to TASM, the SBC Foundation has awarded SBC Excelerator grants to the Capitol Hill Community Technology Center, Oklahoma City; the Hospice of Southwest Oklahoma, Lawton; the Integris Jim Thorpe Rehabilitation Hospital, Oklahoma City; the Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Hugo; the Norman Firehouse Art Center, Norman; and the Rural Enterprises Inc., Durant.

The Tulsa Air and Space Museum is a nonprofit, charitable organization per IRC S 501©(3) and receives no public funding for operations. To learn more about the Museum, phone 918-834-9900, or visit the web site at

Updated 01-14-2005

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