DETROIT, Michigan (August 22, 2018) – A small, rural elementary school in northern Michigan. An urban charter school in California. Separated by thousands of miles, on any given day such schools may come together to learn about astronomy, weather, habitats and more through the Michigan Science Center’s ECHO Distance Learning Program. 

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ECHO, which stands for Engaging in Collaborative Hands-On learning, is part of the Science Center’s Traveling Science program. It uses video conferencing to connect classrooms from any location with a museum educator who conducts interactive lessons in real time. For schools that do not have ready access to resources, distance learning like ECHO provides a direct link to informal, hands-on learning that helps bring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to life in new and meaningful ways.

“Variety is very important for students, and ECHO helps us approach learning from every direction. When we use a variety of techniques, we can transform how students learn,” said Charles Gibson, Michigan Science Center director of innovation and outreach.

Launched in 2017, ECHO has reached more than 2,500 students in 7 states and Canada. Programs last approximately 45 minutes and require no special hardware or equipment. Hands-on materials are provided to participants in advance.  Ms. Whateley from Poupard Elementary in Grosse Pointe, Mich., said, “Our third graders loved our long-distance learning experience!”

ECHO content supports NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS), a new set of national science standards designed to help students achieve a cohesive understanding of science over time. ECHO combines technology and hands-on elements to engage students and transform how they learn. The program is made possible by a $300,000 grant from ITC Holdings Corp. (ITC).

ITC Vice President of Engineering Joe Bennett teamed up with the Science Center for a special Arbor Day lesson on the importance of trees, how ITC works with communities to safely plant the trees away from power lines, and how ITC helps promote natural habitats in its electricity transmission corridors. “ITC is proud to be a longtime supporter of the Michigan Science Center, and to help bring its programming to the far reaches of the state and beyond,” said Bennett. “Furthermore, as a leader in connecting consumers to energy resources, we know firsthand the importance of STEM education in our industry. The budding young scientists, mathematicians and engineers we are helping inspire today will be the ones to develop the energy solutions of the future.”

About the Michigan Science Center

The Michigan Science Center inspires nearly 300,000 curious minds of all ages every year through STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) discovery, innovation and interactive education in Detroit and across the state of Michigan. As the STEM hub of the state, we focus on developing and introducing expanded education programs, exhibits, and initiatives that enable us to empower and enrich all children and all communities with STEM. Through our Traveling Science Program and distance learning initiative, we are expanding beyond our Detroit-based facility, with a goal of reaching all 83 counties of Michigan. With Toyota’s 4D Engineering Theater, live stage shows, a Planetarium, lab activities, 250+ hands-on exhibits, and more, there are dozens of ways to customize your MiSci visit. The Michigan Science Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not receive support from the city of Detroit or the state of Michigan. For more information, please call 313.577.8400 or visit the website,

About ITC Holdings Corp.

ITC is the largest independent electricity transmission company in the United States. Based in Novi, Michigan, ITC invests in the electric transmission grid to improve reliability, expand access to markets, allow new generating resources to interconnect to its transmission systems and lower the overall cost of delivered energy. Through its regulated operating subsidiaries ITCTransmission, Michigan Electric Transmission Company, ITC Midwest and ITC Great Plains, ITC owns and operates high-voltage transmission infrastructure in Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, and in development in Wisconsin. These systems serve a combined peak load exceeding 26,000 megawatts along approximately 15,800 circuit miles of transmission line, supported by nearly 700 employees and 1,000 contractors across our expanding footprint. ITC’s grid development focus includes growth through regulated infrastructure investment as well as domestic and international expansion through merchant and other commercial development opportunities. For further information visit WWW.ITC-HOLDINGS.COM. ITC is a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., a leader in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry. For further information visit WWW.FORTISINC.COM.