Partner Highlight: "Making More of the MOST" Out of Museum and Community Partnerships at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology in Syracuse, NY

Kayla Berry, Museum of Science, Boston

During the summer months, youth often have more free time on their hands, and many families find themselves seeking ways to keep their children safe and engaged when not in school. Youth-serving and community-based organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Scouts, YMCA, and public libraries provide countless benefits and opportunities to the youth they serve year-round.

At the intersection of youth-serving and community-based organizations seeking to provide high-quality STEM learning experiences to their audiences and for science museums seeking to reach underserved audiences not currently engaged in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, there presents a unique and rich partnership opportunity for local community organizations and science museums.

Since 2010, the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology (MOST) has partnered with the Onondaga County Public Library’s Summer Reading Program to provide science programming relating to their summer reading program at 32 libraries in Onondaga County. The partnership between MOST and the public library began in 2010 through the support of a federal grant provided by the New York State library, but after funding was cut in 2013 the MOST’s summer science program has been supported by grant funding through the Onondaga County Public Library.

The 2015 summer traveling science program, "Superhero Science: The Power Behind the Hero!," corresponds to the library’s summer reading theme "Every Hero Has A Story." Using science to explain superheroes’ powers provides an engaging and exciting learning experience for children, and helps to continue to pique their interest in STEM topics by making connections between something they already have background knowledge in (superheroes) and science!

Picture left: MOST’s Education Director addresses children at the LaFayette Public Library during her traveling science show about superhero science.

Picture right: Children investigate the power of magnetism with paperclips and a neodymium magnet.

Have you ever considered how superheroes’ powers are nano, or rather how nanoscale science can help to explain how their powers work? One of the kid’s favorite demonstrations at Salina Library was the demonstration of putting an egg in a closed bag of cornstarch and water and watching in suspense as it was dropped to the floor. This fun activity models Captain America’s infamous shield, which wields an incredible ability to absorb force, along with other activities and demonstrations that are designed to encourage further scientific investigation.

In addition to partnering with local libraries, the MOST collaborates with Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts in their community by providing overnights at their museum with workshops designed to satisfy badge requirements. Museum educators’ are able to work with scout leaders to provide programming that meets their scouts’ needs. During MOST’s 2015 NanoDays, a Girl Scouts troop was able to engage in nano by watching an Alice in Nanoland dramatization and through hands-on activities.

The museum and community partnerships with local libraries and Girl Scouts are only two examples of ways the MOST is reaching underserved and underrepresented audiences in their community. Additional partnerships and programs include: a E3 (Engage, Enrich, Extend) outreach program that worked with middle-school students and their teachers by providing hands-on science learning opportunities using NISE Net NanoDays kit activities; the Guardian Angels program that assists grade 6-8 students, primarily recent immigrants whose last school year was challenging, by providing three science workshops on age appropriate topics; and the CNY Parent Connections that provides monthly sensory friendly time to better accommodate visitors with sensory challenges.

The best partnerships have a synergistic quality and the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology’s collaborative programs with local community organizations illustrates just how valued these partnerships are by the greater community.

Above: Girl Scouts participate in MOST's 2015 NanoDays events and hands-on activities.

NISE Net Activities with a Superhero and Superpower Connection

If you're interested in learning more about MOST's educational programs or community-based partnerships, please visit http://www.most.org/ or contact Betty Jones at bjones@most.org. For more information on NISE Net's Museum and Community Partnerships project, please visit http://www.nisenet.org/museum-community-partnerships

Source for Library Pictures: http://www.syracuse.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/07/superhero_science_show_travels_to_libraries_across_onondaga_county.html