Chevron and the New Orleans Pelicans invited the kids of Arthur Ashe Charter School to unveil their new STEAM Zone and kick off the grand opening festivities of the newly renovated Smoothie King Center on Monday.
The STEAM Zone (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) will be a permanent exhibit in the northeast corner of the arena and is made of several different stations that is geared toward teaching children the science of basketball.
“We’re so proud and happy of everything that we’ve done in the state of Louisiana, as well as our own endeavors into the Smoothie King Center,” said Rita Benson LeBlanc, the Owner/Vice Chairman of the New Orleans Pelicans. “It’s a real evolution and a testament to what a true partnership can accomplish. And we just hope that there are things we can add (to the Smoothie King Center) every year.
“At the top of my thought process was being appreciative of the companies that support New Orleans and the whole state and also to have fun educating people.”
The exhibit itself is made up of seven different stations that vary from teaching kids how projectile motion affects the travel of a basketball to how the art and design of a basketball shoe can affect the form and function of their favorite basketball players.
The exhibit also has two interactive stations that include a touch screen that allows kids to look at pictures and video of anything from other kids that are involved in Project Lead the Way to their favorite New Orleans Pelicans players in action. The other interactive exhibit is an actual backboard used in NBA games that allows children to measure their vertical leap by touching a sensor on the glass.
This is really an opportunity to engage with the community of New Orleans and the children of New Orleans and we are really proud to be able to do something like this with the Pelicans organization,” said Chevron GM of Public Affairs Sakari Morrison. “We really wanted to show our devotion to the education of the children in this community and how they can find education in their favorite sport or with their favorite teams.”
The highlight of the day was towards the end of the exhibit’s reveal, when Pelicans forwards Ryan Anderson and Anthony Davis surprised the kids and assisted them in their exploration of the STEAM Zone.
“It’s just awesome to see the kids and to see their faces light up when we walk out,” Anderson said.
“This is what we want to bring to the city. We want to be in the public and show them that we understand they have our back and we want to have their backs, as well.”
Davis, who received a raucous cheer from the children of Arthur Ashe upon his entrance, says that he embraces his role as a pillar in the community and understands the impact of his presence at these types of events.
“It’s a fun experience and I love being around the kids and getting to do stuff like this,” Davis said. “It’s still amazing to walk in the room and see the kids react to me the way they do. To see that even the little kids know who I am is a great feeling and makes you really understand that you have to pay attention to what you’re doing because they are always watching.”