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Madison Children’s Museum is preparing for a year of expanded Earth and space science offerings, with new exhibits, increased STEM programming, and a new, space-themed summer camp. New programs will be supported by a recent award from the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Net).
The museum was selected as a recipient of a 2017 Explore Science: Earth & Space physical toolkit, awarded by NISE Net, in partnership with NASA. In addition to receiving educational materials and supplies, museum staff will be eligible to attend online professional development workshops, to learn more about toolkit resources, current topics in Earth and space sciences, and strategies for engaging the public in informal STEM education.
The museum is one of 250 recipients, selected through a competitive award process administered by the Science Museum of Minnesota, and overseen by NISE Net. All recipients are members of the Association of Science and Technology Centers, a national association of science education institutions. Toolkit recipients will use resources provided by NISE Net, in partnership with NASA, to “engage public and professional audiences in learning about Earth and space sciences, [and] encourage new and strengthened partnerships among national and local organizations that support informal and lifelong learning.”
This award follows a year of increased space and Earth sciences outreach at Madison Children’s Museum, building on a long history of working with space science partners in the Madison community, including UW’s Space Place. In April 2016, the museum sent a staff member to Kennedy Space Center in Florida, as a NASA Social correspondent, to report on the launch of CRS-8 and the Bigelow Expanded Activity Module for the International Space Station. In September 2016, museum staff received additional resources and training from the Lunar Planetary Institute, in partnership with NASA, to support space science education and programming related to asteroids and NASA’s asteroid sample-return mission, OSIRIS-REx. In October 2016, the museum’s Member Monster Mash event featured a variety of asteroid-themed educational activities, which utilized training and resources received over the course of the year.
The museum will kick off another year of expanded space and Earth science-related STEM programming with two new exhibit openings in January and February 2017. Seymre’s Adventure, a hands-on limnology exhibition will open first, followed by Stair Trek: Core to Cosmos. A new geology exhibit on the museum’s green rooftop will follow in spring 2017. Expanded STEM programming offerings include weekly and bi-weekly programs, like Taste of Tech, Magnetic Mayhem, Mad Science, and SCRATCH computer programming classes. During summer 2017, the museum will debut a new camp session focusing exclusively on space science and astronautics – a first for Madison Children’s Museum.
Kia Karlen, MCM’s Director of Education, looks forward to utilizing the Explore Science toolkit for new museum programs and exhibits. “At MCM, our mission is to connect children with their families, their communities, and the world beyond through discovery learning and creative play,” says Karlen, “with these new resources from NISE Net, we can expand our programming even further to the worlds beyond our planet.” MCM is excited to partner with NISE in providing “engaging, hands-on Earth and space science experiences with connections to science, technology, and society” to the Madison community.
Learn more about MCM’s mission, exhibits, programming, and STEM education opportunities at the museum’s website, or by following along on social media.