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Lessons on whales, fossils and coding at NYC museum

American Museum of Natural History provides research and lab experiences for under-resourced high school students
Last year, more than 900 middle school students gathered at the American Museum of Natural History in one of New York City’s largest science fairs (with more than 400 projects) on the 10th anniversary of the museum’s middle school science initiative, Urban Advantage.
Last year, more than 900 middle school students gathered at the American Museum of Natural History in one of New York City’s largest science fairs (with more than 400 projects) on the 10th anniversary of the museum’s middle school science initiative, Urban Advantage.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is leveraging its scientific resources to address K12 STEM education needs and to help develop future scientists.

The museum’s mission is to “discover, interpret, and disseminate, through scientific research and education, knowledge about human cultures, the natural world and the universe.” It houses more than 33 million specimens and artifacts.

In recent years, the museum has developed K12 initiatives including partnerships with urban schools, and a mentoring program to provide research and laboratory experiences for under-resourced high school students.

For example, the BridgeUp: STEM initiative focuses on the intersection of science and computer science. It includes an intensive Brown Scholars program for high school girls to code and work with real scientific data sets, and learn how data science and visualization are important tools for scientists in all fields.

The American Museum of Natural History also offers weeklong middle school summer programs, on topics such as “What Happened to the Neanderthals,” in which students use fossil and genetic evidence to investigate how a society declined. Another is the “Evolution Institute,” in which students explore the diversity of life on Earth and gain an understanding of the genetic and physical evidence for evolution.

In May, the museum received the 2015 National Science Board Public Service Award, honoring exemplary service in promoting public understanding of science and engineering. That month, it also was awarded a $200,000 grant by Carnegie Corporation of New York in recognition of it exemplary educational offerings for K12 students.

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