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PR # 8 July 25, 2008


The 3M Foundation has announced a $100,000 gift to the Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) Foundation.

The donation would be used for the construction of an observatory at the College?s North Branch campus. The observatory, which will be named in honor of 3M, will be part of the RVCC Planetarium?s facilities. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2009. The gift from the 3M Foundation was initiated through the support of 3M's MidAtlantic Council, which represents the Flemington, Whippany, Wayne and Aston, Pennsylvania plants.

The contribution was officially announced at RVCC on Wednesday, July 23, at a special event attended by representatives of 3M. The program, held at the College?s Planetarium, included a panel of Planetarium staff, area teachers and students, and representatives from the Somerset County 4-H Astronomy Club, as well as astronomy demonstrations. The College is partnering with the 4-H Club and will install the club?s 14-inch Meade telescope in the new observatory.

Once the observatory is operational, RVCC faculty and staff, along with area astronomers, will guide 4-H members and college students in their pursuit of learning practical astronomy techniques. Students will learn how to locate objects in the myriad of stars and how to image deep sky objects with a CCD camera. They also will be trained to work with the public on regularly scheduled public viewing nights and special events using a variety of telescopes.

?The 3M Corporation has a long history of supporting science education and encouraging partnerships among educational institutions to encourage students to study science and to improve and enhance the teaching of science,? said Jim Pappas, plant manager at the 3M facility in Raritan Township. ?The Planetarium programs represent innovative teaching that meets these goals, and we have been extremely pleased with our investments in RVCC. This latest gift represents our continued commitment to scientific pursuits.?

?We are extremely grateful to 3M for this generous contribution. The new observatory will be a wonderful addition to the Planetarium and the New Jersey Astronomy Center for Education at RVCC and will help the community, students and area teachers become better educated about astronomy,? said RVCC President Dr. Casey Crabill. ?3M has been an incredible partner in helping the College expand opportunities in science education through innovative teaching,? Dr. Crabill continued.

3M Foundation and 3M Corporation have been extremely generous to RVCC. In 2007, 3M awarded RVCC a $50,000 grant to help expand existing science education programs supported by two NASA IDEAS (Initiative to Develop Education through Astronomy and Space Science) Grants, administered by the Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute.

As part of these initiatives, staff members at the New Jersey Astronomy Center for Education (NJACE) Teaching Institute at RVCC have worked with teams of educators to examine their school districts? astronomy curriculum, developing timelines and methods for improving the way astronomy is taught in their respective schools. In addition, NJACE staff have assisted these team members in providing training on this updated astronomy curriculum to other teachers in their schools.

3M also gave a $45,000 grant in 2005 to RVCC and Rider University for science and math teacher education initiatives as part of the CONNECT-ED program. Other 3M grants have aided such programs as Project ASTRO NOVA and a Starlab Training Program for astronomers. Project ASTRO NOVA partners astronomers with classroom teachers to enhance learning about astronomy. After being trained to use the Starlab, an inflatable portable planetarium, astronomers can help bring the wonders of the night sky into local classrooms.

3M is a global diversified technology company, headquartered in St. Paul, MN, with several sites in New Jersey. 3M Community Giving consists of product donations and cash grants by 3M and the 3M Foundation and is bolstered by employee and retiree volunteerism. Education is a major focus of 3M?s giving program emphasizing math, science and economics education ? from elementary through graduate school. Locally, giving by the 3M Foundation sponsored visits by the Franklin Institute?s Traveling Science Show to several local elementary schools, supported innovative teaching programs at the Flemington Raritan Regional School District and the expansion of the Project ASTRO NOVA program at Raritan Valley Community College.

For additional information about the 3M contribution or the RVCC Foundation, please contact Executive Director Betty Demy Hutcheon, ehutcheo@raritanval.edu , or 908-526-1200, ext. 8349.

RVCC, located on Route 28 and Lamington Road in North Branch, NJ, and serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 40 years, offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu .

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