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APSU’s Lab Explorer Camp receives funding from Nashville Predators Foundation

By: Colby Wilson May 23, 2024


Austin Peay State University faculty and staff members accept a $5,000 check from the Nashville Predators Foundation during the organization’s annual Helper Grant Check Presentation Ceremony.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Austin Peay State University recently received a $5,000 grant from the Nashville Predators Foundation to support its Lab Explorer Camp, which will bring middle-schoolers to campus from June 24-28 for a week of hands-on experiences in chemistry and biology.

The funding marks Austin Peay’s sixth Helper Grant since 2021, and was part of a record $825,995 the Predators Foundation distributed to 183 local nonprofits this year.

Dr. Manisha Gupta, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Anuradha Pathiranage, assistant professor of chemistry, organized the Lab Explorer Camp to inspire enthusiasm for both fields. They accepted the check alongside Dr. Lisa Sullivan, professor of chemistry; Kelly Pitts, assistant director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs; and Sharana Jones, grants specialist for the College of STEM.

“I am immensely grateful for the generous support from the Nashville Predators Foundation, which has made it possible for us to host this summer's Lab Explorer Camp in Clarksville,” Pathiranage said. “Thanks to this grant, middle school students in the area will have the opportunity to delve into a variety of activities designed to broaden their knowledge and ignite their curiosity, all without any financial hurdles. We sincerely appreciate the commitment of the Nashville Predators Foundation to fostering educational opportunities for our community.”

This is the second year in a row that Austin Peay’s College of STEM has received a grant from the Predators Foundation. Last year’s grant funded a pre-semester chemistry boot camp for Austin Peay students, who learned about significant figures, lab skills (including the density of hockey pucks), conversion factors and team building, then finished the event testing multiple hypotheses using foam cannons.

The Nashville Predators Foundation focuses on an ongoing effort to meet educational, social, health and cultural needs throughout Nashville and Middle Tennessee. Through an annual grant cycle, the Nashville Predators Foundation gives out hundreds of thousands of dollars to local charities for projects and programs benefiting youth and their families in the region.

In 2022, the Preds Foundation renamed its grants program to Helper Grants empowered by SmileDirectClub after former Preds senior vice president and advisor Gerry Helper. Helper retired after 40-plus years in the NHL, including 24 with Nashville, where he ended his career as the Preds Foundation’s chairman of the board.