This Saturday, dance the afternoon away on a science-inspired dance floor at Night Games. Using 3D surround sound and Playstation move technology, dancer’s movements are analyzed by software and used to modify the dance experience. The movements and instrument choices of the dancers create the music, and costumed creatures encourage revelry and participation in this collaborative performance. Throughout the dance, Night Games brings a conscious awareness to participants that their individual actions impact the collective ecosystem. So bring your enthusiasm, good vibes and your best moves to NYSCI this Saturday!
Last week, ten thousand miles from New York, students learned about microorganisms from one of our educators. Anthony Negron, manager of our Virtual Visit program, employed videoconferencing technologies to connect with St. Kevin’s Primary School in Sydney, Australia. Using microscopes, NYSCI exhibits, and a live feed of various microorganisms, the students learned where the tiny creatures are found, and how to classify them. The program helped to launch a new technology room at the Australian school and was attended by students, parents and educators.
Brett Salakas of St. Kevin’s Primary School and coordinator of the event called the program a “wonderful experience” that “greatly enhanced our science unit on microorganisms. The well-balanced program gave the students an insight in the topic which we could not provide here in a regular classroom.”
Last weekend, elementary students from P.S. 139 in Rego Park, Queens brought their families to visit us as part of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs CASA – Cultural After School Adventures program. Prior to the visit, NYSCI staff traveled to P.S. 139 to provide a series of three after-school science workshops, where they taught the students about convex and concave lenses, the properties of light, and how electricity is produced. Last weekend’s visit reinforced some of what the kids learned during the after-school workshops, while also exposing them to other science topics as they explored our exhibits. Thanks to the grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs, now in its third year, we’ve been able to offer the CASA program to three Queens schools this year. Tomorrow, I.S. 72 will visit us to cap off their cultural after-school adventure!
Last Saturday, 30 high school students turned into museum educators, helping our visitors understand microbiology, camouflage, skull anatomy, genetic diversity, matter, cellular structure and UV radiation. They provided info, instructions and encouragement to approximately 200 visitors who were trying out various hands-on activities.
The program is part of a partnership between NYSCI and ExpandEd, which is designed to provide high school students with experiences beyond traditional school classrooms. Throughout the Spring, the students participated in a 10-week program at NYSCI where they learned about the scientific method, astronomy, genetics, ecology, evolution, microbiology and other science topics. Saturday’s hands-on activities represented the conclusion of the 10-week program. But you may interact with some of them at our exhibits this summer: Twelve of the students will continue on with summer internships at NYSCI as Junior Explainers.
More than 60 of our Corona neighbors visited us today as part of a special museum initiative called NYSCI Neighbors. Parents of students from P.S. 14, P.S. 16 and P.S. 307, along with school faculty, were treated to a special bilingual (English/Spanish) chemistry demonstration and 3-D movie showing. In addition, Jessica Castillo, an Explainer at NYSCI, led the group on a bilingual tour of various exhibitions, including the Science Playground, the Search for Life Beyond Earth, and Sports Challenge.
Families and faculty of participating NYSCI Neighbor schools are eligible for a NYSCI Neighbors membership that offers borrowing privileges for NYSCI’s library and access to multilingual tours. The program began in 2011 to connect residents of neighboring Queens communities with our science resources and programs.
Photo: NYSCI Explainer Jessica Castillo tours a NYSCI Neighbors group through the Search for Life Beyond Earth exhibition.
Last month, NYSCI entered the publishing world with our new book: Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators. Published by Routledge, the book includes case studies of innovative programs throughout the country that get young people interested in science and technology. Programs like the Tinkering Studio at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, the MAKESHOP at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and Design Lab here at NYSCI.
With a shortage of Americans in science and technology fields, this is a book everyone should read. As Ursula Burns, Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation, said,
“If you care about the future of our country, you should read this book and then put its lessons to work.”
Last week, new guidelines for K–12 science education were released. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by 26 states, along with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve. The standards emphasize critical thinking over content memorization and identify science and engineering practices that students should master to be fully prepared for college and careers.
NGSS also recommends that students learn about climate change. For the last two years, we have partnered with Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management on a program called My Carbon Footprint, an educational initiative designed to build awareness about climate change science. As a result of this project, we have developed two climate change curriculums – one for middle schools and one for high schools – that include hands-on activities that give students the foundation they need to understand climate change. Both curriculums align to the seven crosscutting scientific and engineering concepts identified in the NGSS framework: patterns; cause and effect; scale, proportion, and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter: flows, cycles and conservation; structure and function; stability and change. The curriculums can be downloaded for free and can help guide teachers who implement climate change science lessons into their classrooms.
The NGSS guidelines are voluntary, but many educators are applauding the move away from rote memorization. Our president and CEO, Margaret Honey, said in a recent USA Today article that children should be taught
“how to learn and how to be discerning…When I was a kid, education was memorizing and learning lots of facts — that methodology of teaching absolutely no longer makes sense. That’s not the world we live in anymore.”
People are buzzing about the anticipated influx of billions of cicadas to the eastern United States. Some are eagerly awaiting their arrival, while others are sure to be spooked by the insects’ beady red eyes and orange wings.
The New York area is part of the Magicicada Brood II’s range and can expect to see the insects sometime in April or May. After spending 17 years underground, they will emerge when the ground, at 8 inches deep, reaches a steady temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. To help residents predict the emergence of the bugs, NYSCI has teamed up with Radiolab and WNYC to offer workshops on how to build your own cicada detector. Participants will use the detectors to observe the ground temperature at their homes and record their findings on a special website. In the process, they’ll learn some DIY skills and citizen science, while helping the rest of us prepare for the cicadas’ appearance.
As New York City gets ready to implement its ban on big sodas, the issue of obesity once again takes center stage.
We’ve heard from nutrition experts, soda corporations, consumer agencies, politicians and Joe Schmo about whether we should have a tax and if it will do any good. But why do we crave all these bad-for-you foods in the first place?
Turns out it’s partly evolution’s fault. Our prehistoric, hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have regular access to high-energy foods, so when it was available, they gorged on it. Think ice-cream-binge-after-being-dumped kind of gorging. Only instead of ice cream, they feasted on animals they were able to hunt, and fruit and nuts that were in season. Those high calorie binges helped fuel their big brains. But today, we have access to far more sugar and fat than our bodies need, which can lead to overindulgence and obesity.
This link between how our species evolved and the foods we crave today is explored in our new exhibition, The Evolution – Health Connection, which is open through June. Along with obesity, The Evolution – Health Connection also looks at the evolutionary reasons behind some other very human problems: painful childbirths, sunburns, lactose intolerance and back problems.
So the next time that little voice in your head says that you need a soda and fries, resist! Stand firm! Distract yourself! Because after all, it’s just your ancestors talking.
When the urge hits to hack, remix, design and make, New York City teens can visit a special pop-up at NYSCI this Saturday. The Learning Labs Pop-Up introduces teens to web design, digital photography, 3D printing, computer animation, sound recording and more in a free workshop made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum Library and Services.
Approximately 50 teens are expected to attend this Saturday’s event. Activity highlights include a Mozilla web maker session by Hive NYC, digital beat making by World Up, and 3D printing by Pixel Academy. With games, food and prizes, the event will feel more like a party than a science lab.
Saturday’s Pop-Up Learning Labs will run from 1 – 4 pm, with another one planned for April 13. Pop on by!