The American Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions.
Since its founding in 1869, the Museum has advanced its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe through a wide-ranging program of scientific research, education, and exhibition.
Education is central to the mission of AMNH since its founding. Over 5 million people visit the museum every year, and access a wide variety of education materials from downloadable apps and hall guides for special exhibitions, to programs and classes that illuminate what makes our Natural World so amazing.
One of the largest museum education departments in the country, AMNH’s education team specializes in different audiences and communities at home and internationally. I was honored to be a part of the Youth Initiatives department – serving children grades 6 through early college in programs and internships at the museum.
My Role as Manager
Over my ten years at AMNH, I have played the part of classroom support, project manager, staff supervisor, anthropology educator, teen mentor, materials organizer, animal handler, and even bathroom monitor when it was needed. As Manager of Middle and High School programs I was responsible for programs that saw thousands of young people in NYC every year – from audiences of four hundred or more who attended public lectures in science aimed at Middle Schoolers, to supporting one-on-one mentoring for the interns from the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. Each program offered unique, memorable experiences for the public. We pulled this off with an amazing staff, whose commitment to education, equity, and community made the museum such a unique place to learn.
Below are some of the programs I was responsible for as Manager, with links to learn more.
Created for children grades 6-8, these programs ranged from single afternoon experiences to a three-year after school program for youth committed to practicing science. My programs were:
Middle School institutes
One to two-week long day camps focusing on hands-on learning in different Natural History subjects, ranging from Computer Programming for understanding Climate Change, to uncovering the secrets of archaeology and human evolution with hands on digs and video game models of Neanderthal extinction.
Experiencing the latest in scientific research in a fun, creative way, these short programs were centered on a lecture from a visiting scientist in a middle-school friendly format. Followed by an extensive guest Q&A, hands on activities, and snacks.
Science Alliance Program
This exclusive program accepted 45 students from a pool of applicants entering the 6th grade. Participants attended weekly after school programs over the course of 3 years, graduating in the spring of 8th grade and having gained significant understanding of Biodiversity, Physical Science, and Anthropology.
For Teens in New York City, AMNH had a host of opportunities to explore their curiosity and passion for science from on-off teen only experiences to individually crafted in-museum programs created with school partners to supplement science learning in underserved public schools. I was responsible for:
After School Program
Free courses offered in the museum of NYC-based teens. Programs ranged from weekly two-hour sessions to 12-weeks of twice weekly programming.
Teen Sci Cafe
Modeled after the very successful “adult” SciCafe series, Teen SciCafe was the opportunity for teens to have the same informal lecture-based experiences as the 21-and-over crowd, only with soda instead of free wine.
This program was an exclusive offer with public high school less than 45 minutes from the museum by public transport, serving a community of students that were majority low income and under represented in the sciences. These programs were crafted in tandem with schools to offer a unique experience for gaining science credits during school hours. Beyond a field trip – school partnerships were a close relationship between the museum, school administrators, and science departments in NYC DOE schools.
Each Year AMNH hosts a group of interns from the Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde. These teens visit as a part of the Willamette Agreement, a reparative relationship between CTGR and AMNH to share a religious object on display.
Interns spend three weeks in New York City, learning about the special role of the museum, the origins of the agreement, and participating in public outreach to teach the public about their history and culture.
With over 100 full-time education department staff, AMNH relies on keeping their workforce trained, engaged, and adapting to best practices in the field. As a manager I worked with department directors to help implement trainings science education, including the Reflecting on Practice program in which AMNH became an East Coast training hub.
I also worked with National programs such as CHISPA through the National Council for La Raza to collaborate on after school teacher trainings in bilingual science education for NYC schools in Washington Heights and the South Bronx.