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New York Hall of Science

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) is one of the nation’s leading science and technology centers. Its mission is to bring the excitement and understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to children, families, teachers and others by galvanizing their curiosity and offering them creative, participatory ways to learn. Located in Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the United States and a first-stop for many immigrant communities, the institution reaches 500,000 visitors annually. In keeping with an institutional priority to reach audiences that are most in need of STEM programming, NYSCI has successfully sought to attract visitors from the many underserved neighborhoods that surround the museum.

Established in 1964 as a pavilion of the World's Fair, NYSCI has developed an array of highly regarded exhibits and programs that have set standards for the science museum field. Drawing on educational principles that foster motivation and deep engagement, these programs include the Science Career Ladder (an internationally replicated youth education and employment program), professional development workshops and courses that support over 3,000 teachers annually, learning experiences serving 200,000 students every year, as well as after-school clubs, early childhood programs, in-school teacher coaching, portable labs, and distance learning programs that connect NYSCI to teachers and students (including many that are hospital-bound) around the world.

Many of these programs draw on NYSCI’s numerous exhibits, which explore topics as diverse as biochemistry, mathematics, astronomy, and physics. These exhibits are located in 150,000 square feet of indoor space, which also features four “Discovery Labs,” an extensive Science Technology Library, an IMAX theater, and Preschool Place, a specially designed museum area designed to meet the developmental needs of children ages birth to 6-years-old. NYSCI’s facilities also include 150,000 square feet of outdoor museum space that features the institution’s landmark Mercury-Atlas and Gemini-Titan rockets and a mini-golf course that enables visitors to explore the laws of motion and gravity.

In 2009, and spurred by President and CEO Dr. Margaret Honey, NYSCI’s Board approved a new plan for the institution, which among its objectives, calls for the launching of several ground-breaking new programs and the repositioning of NYSCI as an important contributor to the national STEM education conversation. Significant progress has been made in pursuit of each of these ends. The development of the new programming is underway, and includes, among other projects: "Connected Worlds", which will feature an innovative, technology-mediated immersive environment in which visitors will create their own strategies for a sustainable future; “Design Lab,” which will support visitors as they construct STEM solutions to design problems of their own choosing; “Maker Space,” which opened in 2012 and consists of a hands-on learning environment that enables visitors to build things (physical or virtual), fostering experimentation, invention and STEM learning; and “World Maker Faire,” a centerpiece of the Maker Movement that attracts over 50,000 visitors to NYSCI to celebrate the DIY mindset that is inspiring thousands of young people to engage in STEM.

In keeping with the institution’s second main objective, NYSCI is rapidly becoming a leader in the STEM education reform movement. A key aspect of this development has been the creation of the Sara Lee Schupf Family Center for Play, Science, and Technology Learning (or SciPlay), an applied research center that is serving as an umbrella for multiple programs that expand understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math learning across formal and informal environments. A primary focus is designing and testing environments that use the power of “design-make-play” (DMP) approaches to foster motivation and deeper learning in STEM. By their nature, DMP activities offer opportunities for student directed learning that integrates skills such as collaboration, communication, flexibility and persistence that are critical to the 21st century workforce. Moreover, through its focus on solving problems that are personally relevant or purposeful, the DMP approach has been shown to reach underrepresented groups who are not always engaged by more traditional STEM activities.

Through its programming and research, NYSCI has gained the attention of many leaders in the science education community, from the National Academy of Sciences to the National Science Teachers Association – an outcome that speaks to the organization’s new vision that positions the museum as an education innovation laboratory. All of the institution’s major initiatives have both public facing components that serve its family and school group audiences, along with underlying research initiatives and rich resources created in collaboration with education partners that enable the museum to support reform-based practices in STEM at the school level. It is this commitment that makes NYSCI unique among its peers in the science center world.