NASA Selects Museum of Life and Science for project to engage Hispanic communities with Earth and space science
June 28, 2022
For Immediate Release – June 28, 2022 | 1 pm
Matt Pusateri, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications
(919) 220-5429 x390
DURHAM, NC – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that it has selected the Museum of Life and Science as one of three organizations to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning with an award of approximately $800,000.
The Museum’s proposed project, which it will implement over the next four years, will create, distribute, and widely implement programs and materials to engage Spanish-speaking communities in learning about Earth and space science. It will also provide professional development for educators and scientists who engage learners in informal settings, such as museums, and leverage national networks to share and distribute these public and professional resources.
“This project allows the Museum to begin working with — rather than for — our local Spanish-speaking communities in ways we haven’t done before,” said Max Cawley, the Museum’s Program Manager for Public Engagement with Science. “This co-development process will ensure that we can build something that’s not only culturally relevant but sustainable. Ultimately, we hope to help ignite learners with meaningful connections to NASA’s scientific explorations.”
Despite being one of the largest and fastest-growing minority groups in the United States, Hispanics are significantly underrepresented in STEM fields. The US Census Bureau reports that around 18.5% of the population (60 million people) is of Hispanic origin. Yet, Hispanics comprise only 7% of all STEM workers—and in some disciplines, such as astronomy, Hispanics represent as little as 1% of the field. The Museum’s proposed project looks to help spark widespread engagement of Spanish-speaking communities by leveraging partners in all 50 states and some territories through the National Informal STEM Education Network (NISE Network).
“This collaboration is an amazing opportunity for Latino children and families to get involved and grow their knowledge and understandings of STEM areas,” said Rosa Gonzalez-Guarda, Board Chair of local non-profit El Futuro, a collaborating partner that provides mental health services for close to 2,000 Latinos annually. “When we think of mental health and wellbeing for the community, we look at building healthy relationships and developing skills and self-confidence. The STEM learning opportunity will be amazing for our Hispanic families!”
The Museum is committed to co-developing the project with local Spanish-speaking communities. It will include experts in informal STEM education and Hispanic community engagement who have worked together successfully on previous national-scale projects. In addition, the team will collaborate with NASA on all major project activities: development of educational products, delivery of educational programming and educator professional development, and distribution of project products and results.
“The Museum is thrilled to partner with NASA in the years to come,” said Carrie Heinonen, President and CEO of the Museum. “We’re committed to helping bring science education and learning to communities that have been historically marginalized. We share NASA’s goal of inspiring ‘the next generation of explorers through STEM learning’ and can’t wait to get started.”
NASA’s Teams Engaging Affiliated Museums and Informal Institutions (TEAM II) program selected three informal education organizations as part of this initiative. The other chosen institutions were the Orlando Science Center and the Franklin County Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio.
About the Museum of Life and Science
Located less than five miles from downtown Durham, the Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top family destinations. Our 84-acre campus includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast, and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits. Our interactive experiences include Dinosaur Trail, Ellerbe Creek Railway, Hideaway Woods, Into the Mist, Earth Moves, and Aerospace, which features one of the largest collections of Apollo-era NASA artifacts in the state. The Museum is also an AZA-accredited zoo, home to rescued black bears, lemurs, endangered red wolves, and more than 60 species of live animals. This year, the Museum celebrates its 75th anniversary and its ongoing commitment to the communities of Durham, the Triangle, and North Carolina. To learn more, visit lifeandscience.org.