Connecting with Museums and Science Centers
Connecting with Museums and Science Centers

There are many opportunities to get involved with local museums and science centers. Often your expertise is not available on-location. They may contact you, when a project arises that can use your knowledge, but you can let them know who you are and what you do as a resource for future projects.

Museums offer a wide variety of educational services to the community that go beyond the traditional exhibits. Museums offer educational materials and tours, classes to students of all ages, professional development workshops to educators, adult lecture series, family parcticipation days, and traveling resource kits, to name a few.

A distinct advantage of museums; people visit because they want to! Visitors are not a captive group of students in a classroom. Museums help science leverage what often is missed - fun!

Connections to Existing Program Models
Funding Opportunities

Getting Started
  • Visit the museum or science center. Get to know it. What is on display? What outreach events are occurring? How does all of this fit into the mission of the center or museum?

  • Determine what it is you wish to do. How does it fit into the mission of the center or museum? Do you have an idea for an exhibit? Is there a parcticular project in your field of expertise that the center or museum is developing? Are you available as a speaker or to host educational programs?

  • Contact the Education Department in the center or museum. If they do not have one, find out who coordinates community outreach and contact that individual. Let them know your interests.

  • Ask how scientists are involved in the center or museum. Do they have any needs that you can fulfill? Find out what programs are planned for the future. Where does your area of specialty fit?

  • Don't be disappointed if they do not embrace your idea for a new hall for the museum. Let them know you are available as a resource for other projects. Get to know them and let them get to know you. if appropriate, you can collaborate on projects after the relationship develops.

  • As always, before you become involved in a project, find out as much as you can about the scope and goals of the project. Who is going to be involved and what are their roles? Is there a producer? An educational specialist? A science team? What is your role as the scientist; how much is expected of you? Who makes final decisions on science content? What is the time-frame for the project?

  • Recognize that everyone involved brings valuable experience to the project. Recognize also that you come from different cultures and value different things. Educate the team about your science and learn what they do.

  • Ask for frequent reviews of the materials and pay attention to details; this will save time and money when changes are necessary.

  • Your voice as the scientist is important in maintaining the scientific integrity of the project. Work with the team within the constraints of the project, but be true to the science!

  • Connections to Existing Program Models
    Researchers with the United States International TransAntarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE) teamed up with the Boston Museum of Natural Science to share the experience through Webcasts and online journals. The site,
    Secrets of the Ice, also offers background information and resources about Antarctica and the expedition.

    The Endurance, is a traveling exhibit about the 1914 Shackleton expedition. The exhibit, currently at the Field Museum in Chicago, is scheduled to appear at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (Seattle), the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and the Maryland Science Center (Baltimore) over the next two years. A variety of events probably is planned around the exhibit at each stop; if you wish to be involved, contact the individual museum.

    Social Sciences Web Page. A web page illustrates four projects supported by the Arctic Social Sciences Program. Narratives written by scientists are translated into illustrated computer documents. The page is on the Smithsonian's Arctic Studies Center.

    Funding Opportunities
    The Division of Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education (ESIE) projects are built on collaboration among K-12, higher education, informal science, and business sectors, as well as meaningful partnerships of scientific and technical practitioners, science-mathematics-technology educators, and education administrators. Many of these programs are on-going with museum and science center partners.
  • Teacher Enhancement
  • Centers for Learning and Teaching
  • Instructional Materials Development
  • Informal Science Education
  • NSF After School Centers for Exploration and New Discovery
  • Advanced Technological Education

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