When it comes to stimulating interest in science and technology, museums have few equals. Many is the child whose lifelong fascination with everything from dinosaurs to space flight and the cosmos was born after a trip to the local science museum.
For science teachers, museums can be a valuable means of professional development that enables them to bring science alive in the classrooms. The Carnegie Corporation of New York recognizes the value of museums as science educators — for teachers as well as students. That's why the funder has just awarded the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Chicago $750,000 for two teacher professional development programs. MSI is the largest science museum in the United States and one of Chicago's top attractions.
The museum will receive funding over a two-year period for its Science Leadership Initiative and its Institute for Quality Science Teaching, two programs aimed at greater student achievement in science and professional development for teachers. The Science Leadership Initiative provides various tools and supports for teachers as a means of supporting science education at the campus level. The Institute for Quality Science Teaching, a program within MSI's Center for the Advancement of Science Education, offers professional development workshops for an estimated 1,000 teachers a year. A study by Michigan State University indicates that participation in MSI's professional development programs is linked to improved student learning in science.
Carnegie, of course, is one of the driving forces behind the 100Kin10 initiative, an effort among multiple funders and other organizations to create 100,000 outstanding teachers in the STEM fields by the year 2021. MSI is a partner organization in 100Kin10, which has been described as a "bottom-up" effort, with each partner doing what it can to contribute to the larger goal (see our 2013 profile on 100Kin10). With this professional development grant, MSI can continue and expand a program that research suggests is showing success, while Carnegie helps fund the growth of such a program.