Supported Projects

We support projects in many different areas across disparate platforms — including informal education experiences, live science events, film and other media productions, and awareness campaigns. Below is a list of current and past projects funded by Science Sandbox.

500 Women Scientists — Request a Woman in STEMM

Online platform built to shift the perception of what a scientist looks like by connecting members of the media, educators, and conference organizers to women and underrepresented scientists.

500 Women Scientists’ mission is to serve society by making science open, inclusive and accessible. One of their central programs is changing the face of science and shifting perceptions of what a scientist looks like. Tired of constantly seeing the same faces, mostly white men, representing science in the public sphere, 500 Women Scientists built the “Request a Woman Scientist” platform two years ago to provide opportunities for members of the media, scientific colleagues, conference organizers, educators and others to find and include more women and underrepresented identities. Since its launch, the platform has grown globally to include more than 12,000 individuals from over 140 countries and territories.

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Adventure Scientists

Organization that pairs large science experiments with world explorers to gather data that would otherwise be nearly impossible to collect.

Adventure Scientists is a nonprofit organization based in Bozeman, Montana, that equips conservationists with data collected from the outdoors that are crucial to unlocking solutions to the world’s environmental challenges. By leveraging the skills of the outdoor adventure community, Adventure Scientists is uniquely able to gather data at any scale, in any environment.

Data collection can be expensive, time-consuming and physically demanding, which limits the role that science currently plays in the conservation process. Adventure Scientists tackles this problem by recruiting, training and managing individuals with strong outdoor skills — such as mountaineering, diving or whitewater kayaking — to bring back data from the far corners of the globe.

Adventure Scientists has sent thousands of volunteers on missions to collect data for its conservation partners. These excursions have led to the discovery of more than three dozen new species, provided information to guide decision making on climate change, and helped protect threatened wildlife habitats around the world.

Through their involvement with these projects, volunteers become ambassadors for the species they work with and the places they visit. By telling their stories and placing them in the rich tradition of outdoor adventure narrative, Adventure Scientists greatly magnifies its partners’ marketing efforts.

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American Society for Cell Biology

Public engagement grants for scientists seeking to bring their work to a bigger audience.

The Public Engagement Grants program provides funding, mentoring and project assessment to American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) members interested in engaging with their community and gaining experience in public outreach. At the core of the program are grants of up to $35,000 pay for materials and supplies, marketing, and salary for public engagement projects. The goal is to help scientists reach public audiences to build trust in scientists, and to enable scientists to undertake a significant pilot/case study so that they can qualify for funding from other sources to sustain and even expand their project. The program also supports scientists who may want to transition to a career in public engagement or increase the professionalism of their approach to engaging the public. ASCB provides mentoring and networking opportunities to scientists who want to expand their public engagement work.

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Billion Oyster Project

Project to restore the New York Harbor oyster population by teaching students to help lead the effort and recruiting volunteers of all ages.

Billion Oyster Project (BOP) aims to restore 1 billion oysters to New York Harbor over the next 20 years while educating the young people of New York City about their local marine environment.

Oysters are icons of New York’s cultural history and the keystone species of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Oyster reefs were the backbone of what was formerly one of the most biodiverse estuaries on the planet. The reefs provide habitat for thousands of species of fish and invertebrates by removing excess nitrogen from the water. Without its oysters, New York Harbor has lost much of its biodiversity.

The students of New York Harbor School, BOP’s flagship institution, have restored more than 16 million oysters. In the process, they have learned scuba diving, raised oyster larvae, operated and maintained vessels, built and run commercial-scale oyster nurseries, designed underwater monitoring equipment, and conducted long-term research projects.

To support the work of growing and restoring oysters, BOP builds reefs, collects and repurposes shells from restaurants, and provides middle school teachers with materials for teaching math and science through the lens of oyster restoration.

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BioBus and BioBase

Mobile lab that brings hands-on science to underserved students in New York City, with a research lab base on the Lower East Side and in Harlem.

The Simons Foundation supports BioBus’s expansion of its community lab programs, which bring hands-on science to students in Harlem, one of Manhattan’s lowest-income school districts, where test scores lag behind citywide levels. The BioBus mobile lab and the BioBase brick-and-mortar lab offer research-grade laboratory experiences led by scientists, giving students from demographics that are underrepresented in STEM careers the opportunity to excel.

The BioBus parks at a school in the New York City area almost every day of the school year and provides an introductory lab course to K-12 students, typically with six classes and up to 180 students per day. BioBus students gain a more positive attitude toward science and are more likely to see themselves in a STEM career.

At the BioBase, students take in-depth classes and participate in after-school programs and summer camps, studying biological, environmental and materials sciences. By designing their own experiments, they gain a better understanding of the complex web of life. As students progress, some become interns and help to develop curriculum for future students.

BioBus hosts ‘science happy hours,’ in which scientists give talks aimed at a general audience, and attends public events to facilitate connections between scientists and the community.

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Biodesign Challenge

Biodesign Challenge (BDC) is an international education program and competition that is shaping the first generation of biodesigners.

BDC partners high school and university students with scientists, artists and designers to envision, create and critique transformational applications in biotech. BDC’s goals are to create a community of collaboration among artists, designers and biologists; seed the first generation of biodesigners; and build meaningful public dialogue about biotech and its uses.

During the academic year, BDC’s staff works hand in hand with instructors to build curricula, give students a grounding in biotechnology and its current uses, and support the students as they embark on their own journeys within the world of biotechnology and biodesign.

For the 2020 cycle, BDC is working with Science Sandbox to provide travel awards to under-resourced schools to ensure that they can participate in our program and attend the BDC Summit. BDC is also offering the Science Sandbox Prize for Public Engagement to the participating team whose project best explores the multitude of impacts biotechnology can have on society. Teams competing for this prize will have special opportunities to present onstage at MoMA and Parsons.

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Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics

Program for students in grades six to 12 that creates pathways for underserved students to study advanced mathematics.

The Simons Foundation supports Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM), an organization that enables low-income sixth- to 12th-graders to study advanced mathematics. Students attend intensive summer programs and have access to an advising program that helps them gain admission to top high schools, pass algebra in eighth grade and enroll in other enrichment programs. After 11th grade, they enter a summer ‘college prep’ program to prepare their college applications and study for the SAT. Through its work, BEAM gives students a realistic chance at the career of their dreams.

BEAM is unique in focusing on giving low-income students access to advanced material. STEM career professionals report having done extra coursework, summer programs and math contests growing up, but access to these extracurricular resources is deeply unequal. Only 3 percent of low-income eighth-graders score at the advanced level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, compared to 14 percent of affluent peers. BEAM has demonstrated that this inequality can be addressed by supporting low-income students who are ready for advanced work.

Funding from the Simons Foundation supports BEAM’s five-year growth phase, in which it will launch math enrichment for grades three to five in low-income neighborhoods in New York City as well as a number of pilot initiatives designed to reach more students.

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California Academy of Sciences

The renowned Bay Area science museum brings citizen-science programming to after-school clubs across the country.

The California Academy of Sciences is a scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining and sustaining life on Earth. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum — all under one living roof.

Designed by the academy, the Science Action Club (SAC) is a nationwide out-of-school program for middle school youth that transforms STEM learning. Through games, projects and hands-on activities, SAC participants investigate nature, document their discoveries connect with scientists, and design strategies to protect our planet — all through the lens of citizen science. SAC features three environmental science units focused on bugs, birds and clouds. Each unit includes 12 hands-on activities and citizen-science investigations designed for 60-90-minute club sessions led by educators, as well as a teaching kit and resources for extended learning. SAC sessions are designed to spark wonder and curiosity about the natural world and provide opportunities for youth to participate in STEM learning that is interesting and meaningful to their lives. SAC’s citizen-science projects have global reach and established longevity, and they take youth outdoors to explore their local environment. For example, the Cloud Quest unit connects students to Globe Observer, a project by NASA in which youth observe the sky to help scientists understand the connection between clouds and climate change; Bird Scouts connects to eBird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; and Bug Safari leverages academy research on arthropods, using iNaturalist. SAC educator are trained and supported through SAC’s blended learning professional development program. Training provides detailed guidance and support for all SAC activities, as well as background information on scientific content, how to do citizen science, and best practices for teaching STEM in an informal learning environment.

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City University of New York: STEM Research Academy

A program for under resourced high school students in New York City to explore how to conduct research.

The STEM Research Academy is a keystone program in the Office of STEM Initiatives of the City University of New York (CUNY). The office is a division of the Office of K-16 Initiatives and is administered in collaboration with CUNY’s College Now program. Focusing on access and equity, the STEM Research Academy enrolls high-performing, underserved New York City high school students. Participating students learn the significance of inquiry, self-advocacy, the societal impact of their mentor’s research and how to conduct research independently.

As a two-semester program, the STEM Research Academy consists of a spring pre-college science course and a summer research experience, designed to provide students with an opportunity to build essential literacy and numeracy skills by engaging in ‘authentic inquiry’ activities. The spring pre-college course strengthens basic skills such as formulating researchable questions, designing testable experiments, performing literature searches in library databases, and reading scientific literature including peer-reviewed journal articles. Students attend the course on a college campus after school or on Saturdays. Upon successful completion of the spring course, students may enroll in a structured six-week internship program with CUNY research faculty.

The program recruits from high schools that lack a strong science research program and serve large, low-income, underrepresented and minority populations. Juniors are selected to participate based primarily on Regents exam scores, their GPA, submission of a general-interest essay, and review of their high school transcript.

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Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory: Urban Barcode Project

A science education initiative to engage high school students in studies of biodiversity in New York City.

The Urban Barcode Project (UBP) is a science education initiative that engages New York City high school students in the study of biodiversity using DNA. ‘DNA barcodes’ are short DNA sequences that can be used to objectively identify almost any plant, animal or fungal species. DNA barcoding can be mastered quickly and applied to many different questions, allowing students to reach a satisfying research endpoint within an academic year. Students can undertake individual projects to explore product mislabeling or contribute to distributed efforts to explore a local ecosystem, museum collection or conservation issue. These projects stimulate independent thinking across different levels of biological organization, linking molecular genetics to ecology and evolution.

UBP is one of several efforts by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center to promote original research by high school students. To participate, students are required to complete two courses: Conservation Genetics and DNA Barcoding and Bioinformatics. Students who complete both courses are invited to apply at the beginning of the school year, and 40 students are selected to participate in teams of two students matched with scientist mentors. Mentors guide the students through all phases of the research process, from project design and culminating in poster and oral presentations at a research symposium. Students gain knowledge, confidence and interest in science while studying the interaction of biodiversity and human well-being.

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Elemental

ELEMENTAL: Atomic Tales & Periodic Fables is a playful collection of short documentary films from around the globe, each one exploring our lives through the lens of a different element from the periodic table.

These diverse individual films combine to create an engaging experience about our relationships with the elements while celebrating the art and craft of documentary filmmaking.

The stories of the elements are intimately connected to our own. Our bodies are made up of elements, our survival depends on them, and they are all that surrounds us. From our daily routines to the patterns of our economies, they affect us in countless ways, yet they often remain invisible. They are the untold stories behind our physical existence.

ELEMENTAL allows creative freedom to award-winning directors and upcoming talent from around the world. Each filmmaker tells a human story about the way one element is used in a five- to 15-minute film directed in their unique voice and style. There are as many stories about how the elements touch our lives as there are creative ways to portray them, and the collection will feature films ranging from personal to political, artsy to animated, and investigative to contemplative.

The goal is to provide a timely, thought-provoking and creative exploration of the unique properties and chemistry of the elements that drive our modern world, motivated by the alarming rate at which we are using many of them up.

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Guerilla Science

Organization with a mission to reach new audiences by bringing exciting and accessible science installations to unexpected places.

Guerilla Science brings science into unusual settings such as pop-up storefronts, raucous parties and public spaces. These encounters promote thought-provoking conversations between diverse communities of people and engage a wide cross-section of scientifically underserved adults through science-inspired experiences that are relevant to their lives. This is accomplished through a program of daring activities at music festivals, a series of experimental live events designed to attract widespread attention, and a digital platform that translates live experiences into an online space that draws a wider audience.

As part of its work, Guerilla Science trains scientists in an avant-garde method of science outreach, offering them valuable experience in engaging with nonscientists in unconventional ways. Guerilla Science plans to contribute to academic research on effective informal science learning, and to act as a role model for best practices within the outreach community and in the wider scientific world.

Guerilla Science’s goal is to become a self-sustaining organization with reduced reliance on grant support. The organization is working to develop commercial revenue streams and to expand its reach internationally, beyond its current base in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

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Hidden Nature SF

Shedding light on what a pre-urbanized San Francisco would have looked like to foster ideas to ensure livability and health for the city moving forward.

Hidden Nature SF is a public science project to discover San Francisco as it existed before the city, revealing both the city’s historical ecology and the hidden nature still woven through its neighborhoods.

Bringing innovative, place-based scientific research into the public realm, the project draws together hundreds of early historical maps, photographs, traveler’s diaries and other rarely used archival sources to shed light on how generations of San Franciscans have altered the city’s landscapes and ecosystems over time — from the marshes along its shoreline to its iconic hills and dunes. Clues from these sources are uncovered and synthesized, providing an immersive entry point for nonscientists to explore San Francisco’s ecological past and future while catalyzing a new and transformative perspective on nature in the city.

With a range of high- to low-tech tools, Hidden Nature SF engages the public with scientifically rigorous information. Interactive maps reach a broad audience, while ecological detective “office hours,” walking excursions and other events draw residents into the science of changing landscapes. Hidden Nature SF inspires varied audiences to learn to read the landscape and tell compelling stories about the places they now inhabit. Ultimately, the project will contribute creative ideas to the active reshaping of San Francisco to foster livability, resilience and health for the city’s natural and human communities.

Hidden Nature SF is a collaboration between the San Francisco Estuary Institute, the Exploratorium, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Presidio Trust.

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Imagine Science

A collaborative program that implements informal, out-of-school STEM learning for youth in high-need communities across the country.

Solving the STEM crisis is too complex a challenge for any one organization—school, cultural institution, or community-based center— to tackle alone. In response to this need, four of the nation’s largest and most experienced youth development organizations came together in 2015 to launch Imagine Science, an initiative that harnesses and unites the distinct expertise and resources of each organization: YMCA of the USA, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc., and the National 4-H Council.

Imagine Science combines the national resources of these four collaborative partners and jointly implements high-quality informal STEM learning during out-of-school time with underrepresented youth in high-need communities around the nation. The initiative follows a common standard of ‘essential program elements’ rooted in evidence-based STEM and out-of-school youth development practices.

Imagine Science (I/S) is the first-ever jointly operated national effort to design and implement high-quality, out-of-school STEM programming for underserved youth. Together, the four partners reach 18 million young people annually in every U.S. state and territory. Their combined assets include more than 110,000 program sites, over 75,000 full-time employees, and 1 million volunteers dedicated to reaching youth.

Following three successful pilot-site launches, Imagine Science is now focused on expanding its national scaling efforts. With philanthropic support from the Simons Foundation, Imagine Science aims to build capacity through additional sites and create a STEM resource repository for broader distribution of quality STEM curricula and activities.

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Lewis Latimer House — Tinker Lab Summer Programs

A weeklong summer camp offering hands-on STEAM education for underprivileged youth in Queens, NY.

The Tinker Lab Summer Camp at Lewis Latimer House Museum offers no-cost, hands-on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education to underprivileged youth through a partnership with the Latimer Gardens Community Center — a New York City Housing Authority residence named after the African American inventor.

Each summer camp session features an in-depth weeklong project introducing students to coding, robotics,engineering and art. Parents and guardians are invited to attend a culminating showcase, where campers proudly present their finished projects.

Lewis Latimer House Museum is a New York City landmark, and the historic house of the African American inventor, humanist and son of fugitive slaves, Lewis Howard Latimer. Among his numerous inventions, Latimer invented a method of producing carbon filaments that made the production of light bulbs both practical and affordable for the average household. He worked with Alexander Graham Bell on the patent for the telephone in 1876, and was one of the original 28 Edison Pioneers. The Museum calls attention to Latimer's and other people of color's contributions to technology and American life through multilingual tours, permanent and special exhibitions, literature series, community events and Tinker Lab STEAM educational programs. Latimer’s life story is used as a point of departure from which to examine issues of race, class, immigration and contemporary events.

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MICRO

A series of six-foot-tall science museums that offer the joy of discovery in unexpected places — from hospital waiting rooms to the DMV.

Micro introduces people to fundamental scientific principles in the places where they least expect it.

Founded in 2016 by computational ecologist Amanda Schochet and producer Charles Philipp, Micro brings together designers, scientists, storytellers and artists to squeeze the best parts of museums into boxes that can go anywhere.

Traditional brick-and-mortar museums make visitors come to them. Micro is a distributed museum. Its fleet of six-foot-tall science museums finds people where they already are, from hospital waiting rooms to the DMV, and connects communities by fostering a common conversation around science.

Micro’s fleet introduces viewers to the core sciences, with a museum on a new topic released every six months. Its first museum, the Smallest Mollusk Museum, debuted in 2016 and is about to be released around New York City. It uses 15 exhibits, five screens, eight sculptures, three optical illusions, a giant hologram and a liter of slime to tell a story about natural selection and environmental systems spanning millions of years.

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MIT Museum: Science in Vivo

Science in Vivo “meets people where they are” by bringing science to unexpected venues.

The Science in Vivo project fosters the integration of science into settings where people are not expecting it. The overall goals of the project are to inspire experimentation with — and advance the understanding of — such work. Over the course of three years the project will support teams at 24 sites that bring science experiences to “where the people are.” Nine of these sites will host an observational visit from other science engagement professionals, enabling them to better understand the dynamics at work in these settings. The project incorporates several mechanisms for sharing findings, including the annual Science Events Summit.

The MIT Museum engages the wider community with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

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Mouse Design League at Brooklyn College Community Partnership

Mouse is a national nonprofit organization that empowers all youth and educators to engage with computer science and creative technology to solve real problems and make meaningful change in our world.

Mouse designs computer science and STEM curricula on our online learning platform, trains K–12 educators, and engages students through its Design League and maker events.

Mouse Design League is a design and technology after-school program in which high school students create inventions to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Design League members develop creativity, problem-solving and collaboration skills, and build confidence in designing technology with purpose. Over the course of the Design League program, our youth use human-centered design to brainstorm, prototype and present assistive technology and projects designed to improve the lives of others. Design League is comprised of high school students with diverse interests and backgrounds, who gain applied design, technology, workplace and leadership experience.

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NEW INC Creative Experiments Track

An art/design incubator that brings scientific research into mainstream dialogue, translating complex issues for the general public.

The Creative Experiments Track at NEW INC, the New Museum’s art/design/technology incubator, supports ideation and prototyping of new applications for science through the lens of art and culture. Creative practitioners who are exploring artificial intelligence, robotics, biotech, digital manufacturing and other science-based areas of research through their practice are supported for a 12-month period, with a bespoke development program that leverages the tools of entrepreneurship to help realize their ideas and maximize potential for impact and sustainability.

Practitioners gain access to NEW INC’s shared workspace, hands-on support from NEW INC staff and external mentors, participation in the NEW INC community, and a robust roster of professional development programs and events — including opportunities for networking with the Science Sandbox community and collaboration with MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative. A focus within Creative Experiments is to increase public engagement with science. Through diverse art and design projects, members of this Track bring scientific research into mainstream dialogue, translating complex issues for the general public, and making visible ways that these projects leverage emerging technology, scientific thinking, and creative problem-solving. Projects include innovative approaches to materials and green infrastructure, artworks that engage space, geography and physical senses in surprising ways, and research that interrupts conventional scientific narratives.

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New York Hall of Science

Initiative to develop a creative interdisciplinary approach to STEM learning that can be implemented in immigrant communities.

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) received a five-year grant from the Simons Foundation to launch Queens 20/20, a multifaceted initiative to provide creative STEM educational opportunities for young people and families in Corona, Queens, a neighborhood that is home to many Latino immigrant families. This population represents the largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority group in the country, but it is vastly underrepresented in science and technology disciplines. Support from the foundation will fund the Science Ambassadors program, which forms the centerpiece of Queens 20/20.

The program will enable NYSCI to make educational resources, exhibits and programs available to students and families in the school district throughout the academic year. Over the next five years, working in partnership with a network of schools in the community, NYSCI will offer programs — based on its signature Design-Make-Play approach to STEM learning — that support out-of-school STEM opportunities and parental engagement. NYSCI will also provide career resources and conduct evaluation and research. The museum’s goal is to serve as a neighborhood hub, offering a much-needed resource for children and their families, teachers, and other members of the community. NYSCI hopes that Queens 20/20 will serve as a model for other organizations and communities serving immigrant families across the country.

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Numberphile

Hugely popular YouTube series featuring ‘numbers people’ discussing unorthodox, cutting-edge or recreational topics in mathematics.

Numberphile is a series of films on YouTube dedicated to mathematics and to people with a passion for numbers.

Video journalist Brady Haran collaborates with mathematicians and other experts from around the world, creating videos that range in length from two to 20 minutes. Topics range from the profound to the quirky, and from cutting-edge research to recreational puzzles.

Recent films have included interviews with world-class mathematicians and other math professionals. But the series also features memorable set pieces, including one film in which the first 1 million digits of pi were printed on a mile-long piece of paper, which was then unfurled on an airport runway.

Numberphile is aimed at viewers of all ages and levels of expertise. It has become one of the most popular ‘edutainment’ channels on YouTube, with more than 2 million subscribers and over 250 million views.

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Radiolab

Award-winning science radio program that employs high-quality storytelling and sound to engage audiences.

Radiolab is a two-time Peabody Award-winning national public radio program that celebrates curiosity and nurtures engagement with science in millions of listeners nationwide and around the world. Co-hosted by executive producer and MacArthur ‘genius’ Jad Abumrad and veteran science journalist Robert Krulwich, Radiolab approaches broad and diverse topics across science from the ground up.

Radiolab’s non-didactic treatment of science — in which the hosts exhibit curiosity and wonder and ask questions — makes challenging science concepts accessible and encourages a feeling of emotional investment and a sense of discovery within its listeners. By positioning science as a living process — one that requires a range of approaches, an ability to grapple with unknowns, and a willingness to experiment — Radiolab’s hosts draw listeners into stimulating, powerful conversations about science, scientific inquiry, and the scientific process. The program makes scientists out of laypeople as they venture into Radiolab-guided explorations that emphasize a feeling of personal connection through a highly crafted use of sound and story.

To foster public engagement with science and scientific inquiry, Radiolab produces and distributes a selection of science programming to national and international audiences via multiple platforms including original digital podcasts, a weekly hourlong radio broadcast, science communication lectures and live events, and the cultivation and promotion of new Radiolab talent. After over a decade of production, Radiolab is broadcast on 596 public radio stations across the country and averages 3.4 million monthly podcast listeners.

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Rockaway Waterfront Alliance

A paid internship for students who conduct research under the mentorship of environmental scientists.

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance’s Environmentor is a science research mentoring program for high school sophomores and juniors. Environmentors participate in an intensive paid environmental science internship in the spring and summer, conducting original research under the mentorship of field scientists from the City University of New York, Hofstra University, the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay, and other institutions. Students research complex issues that affect the Rockaways’ urban waters, particularly Jamaica Bay, and present their research in the community and at the American Museum of Natural History. Past interns have conducted research on salt marsh restoration, eel identification using environmental DNA, and microplastics in oysters.

Through their participation in the program, students develop science research skills while enjoying the unique experience of conducting field research in their own communities. Students learn about local ecology and environmental justice issues and become familiar with data collection, scientific equipment, crafting research projects, formulating questions based on raw data and observations, and reading, writing and presenting on scientific topics. Students also participate in leadership training and summer activities including surfing, kayaking and swimming.

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Rocking the Boat

Rocking the Boat brings positive impact to the high-need youth of the South Bronx by using activities centered on small boats and local waters as unique vehicles for teaching foundational STEM skills and valuable youth development lessons.

The organization engages high school students in three challenging and dynamic program tracks: wooden boatbuilding, sailing and environmental science. All three deliver hands-on technical education to a population often lacking access to both extra-curricular activities and to STEM-related studies and careers. The Environmental Science Program in particular makes science relevant and fun by grounding lessons in exploration of the participants’ neighborhood river, the Bronx River, and giving them an important role in its restoration. Through hands-muddying activities in student-built boats, the Environmental Science Program nurtures a budding interest in the biodiversity of the Bronx River and trains students in the tools and methods used in environmental research. Students then use those skills to take part in research and restoration projects that partner with local, state and national organizations. In one of a slate of ongoing projects, the students are helping the New York City Audubon Society and the U.S. Forest Service monitor the region’s wading bird population; performing multisite water-quality testing and microplastics research in conjunction with the Bronx River Alliance; managing the Bronx River oyster reef with the Billion Oyster Project; and contributing to the upkeep of a New York City Department of Parks and Recreation restored wetland. Environmental Science Program participants are proud that the data they collect on water quality, oyster growth and bird activity is shared with our distinguished partners and is personally presented to their neighbors at public events.

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Science Gallery Detroit

Part of a university network dedicated to public engagement with science and art, Science Gallery Detroit combines emerging research and ideas from the worlds of art, science, design and technology to unlock the creative potential of young people.

The mission of Science Gallery is to act as a collider of art and science, and to engage 15–25 year olds in connective, participative and surprising ways by combining emerging research and ideas from the worlds of art, science, design and technology. Science Gallery is the world’s only university network dedicated to public engagement with science and art. Science Gallery Detroit is the only member of the Science Gallery International Network in the Americas.

Science Gallery unlocks the creative potential of young people, providing opportunities for young people to develop skills for today's and tomorrow’s jobs, create fertile ground for entrepreneurship and innovation, and discover new connections and inspiration for young people around the globe.

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Sciences at Pioneer Works

A massive cultural center dedicated to experimentation, education and production across disciplines, housed in a converted warehouse in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Pioneer Works is a center for art, experiment, research, education and science. Located in a 25,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, the facility houses artist studios, exhibition and performance spaces, a science lab, a recording studio, and more. The floor plan is open and flexible, encouraging a collaborative environment in which international artists, musicians, scientists and educators can create together.

Pioneer Works encourages its artists and scientists to focus on their own disciplines and not feel pressured to cross over into others, although collaborations often erupt spontaneously. What the organization offers to all of its inhabitants is the opportunity to live in a bigger world and play the most important part they can play on that larger stage.

With support from the Simons Foundation, Pioneer Works is rebuilding its science studios. It is also continuing its popular live science events, which are free and open to the public, and producing podcasts to disseminate its programs to a wider audience. In the later phases of its expansion, Pioneer Works will offer specially tailored scientific residencies and workshops and an incubator space. Pioneer Works hopes to become a model for the natural integration of science into a cultural organization.

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Stem From Dance

Two- week programs, for girls to create a collection of technology-infused dances, to inspire them to consider joining the STEM workforce.

STEM From Dance (SFD) envisions a world in which Black and Latina women are represented equitably in the STEM workforce. To this end, SFD empowers underrepresented minority girls to prepare for a STEM education that excites them — through the creative and confidence-building aspects of dance.

Black and Latina women comprise 15% of the American population but occupy only 4% of the STEM workforce. The STEM workforce features some of our country’s most high-impact and lucrative jobs, but women of color are deterred from entering STEM fields due to lack of confidence, readiness, and awareness. SFD breaks down each of these barriers using dance as a “hook” and an environment where girls of color can grow their STEM skill set and sense of possibility that STEM can be an option for their futures. Over the past six years, SFD has impacted the STEM awareness, ability and confidence of over 400 participants across a variety of school and community sites.

In partnership with Science Sandbox, SFD piloted a summer program in July 2018 to reach girls from schools across NYC in our target population, creating an opportunity to serve more students and further the mission of preparing girls for a future in STEM. Over two weeks, girls create a collection of technology-infused dances that awe and inspire, while learning about computer science, electrical engineering, choreography and how they all work together.

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Sundance Institute: Science Sandbox Nonfiction Project

A documentary film initiative designed to foster and support independent science storytelling.

Led by Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, the Science Sandbox Nonfiction Project is a partnership that offers grants, engagement events and other opportunities for independent artists seeking to explore the intrinsic link between science and culture through innovative storytelling. The partnership identifies and supports nonfiction projects that communicate science to general audiences in meaningful ways. Emphasis is placed on film and media projects that incorporate creative narrative techniques and highlight diversity in science, especially those that feature characters, topics or disciplines that broaden or redefine what it means to be a scientist or to do science.

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Techbridge Girls

Tackling the issue of inclusivity in STEM by providing best-in-class, hands-on programming to girls from low-income communities.

Techbridge Girls excites, educates and equips girls from low-income communities to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers and to attain economic mobility and better life chances. Today, many girls are locked out of STEM and have to work twice as hard to get half as far. Overwhelming odds are stacked against them: They live in low-income communities, go to high-poverty schools and experience bias due to their race, class and ethnicity. Techbridge Girls aims to level the playing field and empower girls from low-income communities to achieve upward mobility and financial stability.

The ChangeMakersTM program uses research-based practices and rigorous evaluation to create a year-long program with an engaging curriculum to introduce middle-school girls to a wide array of STEM skills and concepts via "hands-on, minds-on" activities. Girls then use their STEM skills to create original Community Impact Projects. Community-centered Showcase events are held at the end of each program year to celebrate girls’ Community Impact Projects with families, teachers and supporters. Examples of past projects include an app that addresses Islamophobia with profiles of Muslim people in the local community as well as highlighting the similarities between Islam and other religions, and a backpack with sensors and LED lights to increase safety for girls who walk home. ChangeMakers also integrates role-model visits from STEM professionals and field trips to STEM employers and the girls' families.

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The Explainer Program at the New York Botanical Garden

High school and college-aged students become expert facilitators, leading the next generation of science enthusiasts.

The Children’s Education Program at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) offers a wide range of structured, programmatic experiences for schoolchildren, educators and families. NYBG staff make use of the institution’s one-of-a-kind learning facilities and its 250-acre campus to stimulate visitors’ interest in plant science and ecology and to enable them to experience the excitement of scientific discovery.

The Explainer Program — an integral part of the Children’s Education Program — is an innovative internship program for urban teens and a prime example of NYBG’s commitment to nature-based science learning. Founded in 1998, the program trains high school and college students to become expert facilitators in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden (ECAG), leading hands-on, inquiry-based educational activities for visiting children, families and school groups. For many of the students, the program is also their first professional experience.

The Explainer Program improves participants’ understanding of scientific concepts through hands-on, inquiry-based lessons; cultivates their understanding and stewardship of the natural world; and enhances their communication skills and self-confidence. Through professional development in science pedagogy and citizen science field experiences, Explainers become expert facilitators in ECAG. They lead educational activities that encourage children and family visitors to think and act like scientists as they learn plant science and ecology concepts.

The program’s tiered structure provides opportunities for advancement and increased responsibility, motivating the students to stay with the program and grow professionally. Explainers are promoted to more expansive leadership roles as they develop expertise in teaching methodologies and demonstrate a commitment to the program. The possibility of clearly attainable advancement provides an incentive for Explainers to work toward becoming mentors and eventually toward assisting with the development and day-to-day operations of the program.

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The Exploratorium

A massive learning space in San Francisco, offering revolutionary ‘tinkering’ studios and engaging outdoor exhibits.

The Exploratorium is a public learning laboratory that enables visitors to explore the world through science, art and human perception. The Exploratorium’s vision is a world where people think for themselves and can confidently ask questions, question answers and understand the world around them. Here, artists, scientists, educators, and designers work alongside one another to envision new ideas and directions for learning about the natural world. Their common goal: to support a culture of experimentation and collaboration, inspire curiosity and understanding, and stimulate fresh ideas and directions.

The Exploratorium Studio for Public Spaces (SPS) transforms public spaces into culturally productive places to learn about natural phenomena and human behavior. Working at the intersection of architecture, urbanism, art and education, SPS creates beautiful and engaging outdoor exhibits and environments that encourage the public to ask questions, make discoveries and test those discoveries. By designing and building spaces where people can pause, observe, experiment and explore the science of natural and social phenomena in everyday life, SPS is creating a new type of social and educational urban space, a public platform for the integration of STEM education into the fabric of urban life and reaching people who don’t think science or science museums are for them.

The Exploratorium was an early pioneer of ‘tinkering’ (also known as ‘making’) as a uniquely engaging approach to STEM learning. Tinkering at the Exploratorium is a carefully but loosely structured process in which scientific concepts and phenomena are positioned as the tools for learners to realize their creative goals.

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The Open Notebook

Tools and resources to help science, environmental, and health journalists at all levels of experience to sharpen their skills.

The Open Notebook provides in-depth articles and other tools to help science journalists improve their skills. They support and encourage high-quality science journalism that has the power to engage wide audiences.

The Diverse Voices program comprises a series of feature-length articles that examine the experiences and perspectives of minority science journalists, who are significantly underrepresented in the science journalism community. Lack of diversity in science journalism is a problem not only for science journalism as a profession but also for readers — and thus for public understanding of science. The people who tell science stories influence whose stories get told (or left untold) and, therefore, how accurately the reading public perceives the scientific enterprise and the opportunities within science for people from diverse communities. What’s more, a science media landscape that is not diverse is missing opportunities for engaging communities of readers who may be interested in science and its role in society.

Diverse Voices, a partnership with the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) Diversity Committee, will bring greater visibility to journalists from underrepresented groups and to scientific and journalistic issues of special relevance to minority communities.

The Diverse Voices program is an extension of The Open Notebook’s broader mission to strengthen science journalism by helping science writers sharpen their craft.

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The Rubin Museum of Art

The Rubin Museum of Art’s annual Brainwave program series engages visitors through onstage conversations and immersive experiences that combine the most compelling advancements in science with traditional Himalayan wisdom.

With its globally renowned collection, largely centered around the Tibetan plateau, the Rubin Museum in NYC fosters understanding and appreciation of this region by relating its art and ideas to our shared human experience today. Inspired by the philosophical traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism and aligned with ongoing research into learning, behavior and the brain, the Rubin offers innovative programs that examine provocative ideas across the arts and explore the mind.

In 2020, Brainwave is focusing on the connections between the Buddhist concept of impermanence — or the fact that everything changes — and cutting-edge research in neuroplasticity. In particular: How can motivation, stress, trauma or bliss transform the brain? Is artificial intelligence dehumanizing us? And how can we reconcile our anxieties about dying? By exploring these questions and more, the series investigates how the brain has shaped us as a human race and how it could reshape our future.

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The Story Collider

A live event and podcast series that encourages scientists to engage with the public through powerful, personal science storytelling.

The Story Collider is a science storytelling show dedicated to the idea that true personal stories are a powerful tool for science engagement. Its founders believe that everybody has a story about science, because now, more than ever, science is a part of everyone’s life. Since 2010, the Story Collider has showcased those personal stories in its many live shows and in its weekly podcast. The organization also teaches science storytelling workshops.

At the Story Collider, the audience hears from scientists about all the times things went wrong in their labs, but the show also presents stories from people who haven’t had a formal connection to science since high school. Storytellers have included physicists, comedians, neuroscientists, writers, actors and doctors.

The Story Collider presents its flagship show monthly in New York City and also hosts shows in Boston, Washington, D.C., and other cities across the U.S. and in the U.K. Its podcast is available on SoundCloud, iTunes and the NPR One app and passed 5 million downloads in 2016.

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Theater of the Mind

An immersive installation by the Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and writer Mala Gaonkar is a journey inside the human brain.

“Theater of the Mind” is an immersive 15,000-square-foot installation, co-created by Talking Heads frontman and artist David Byrne and writer Mala Gaonkar, that takes its audience on a sensory journey through the human brain. Small audiences — only 16 at a time — are led through a complex participatory experience of narrative storytelling. Sensory experiments, developed in consultation with neuroscientists, are conducted in real time.

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Wave Hill Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship Program

A paid internship program that allows students to conduct fieldwork that improves the environment through ecological restoration.

The Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship (WERM) program is a 14-month internship (July through August of the following year) focused on urban ecology that pairs 10-12 high school students with working scientists. The program targets economically diverse communities that have a demonstrated need for science enrichment programming. WERM utilizes Wave Hill’s woodland as a living laboratory and provides paid internships for students to engage in fieldwork and academic coursework. These internships promote personal and career growth as students improve the environment through ecological restoration. This internship is often their introduction to scientific research and practical work experience. Students receive a stipend based on hours of participation and performance.

WERM interns take two academic courses: “Restoration of NYC’s Natural Areas” and “Mapping NYC’s Urban Environment: An Intro to GIS.” “Restoration of NYC Natural Areas.” The course goals are: learning the science of ecological restoration; enhancing data literacy; developing technical skills; and understanding the role of public policy; and land management. “Mapping NYC’s Urban Environment: An Intro to GIS” offers students an introduction to cartography and the use of geographic information systems, a technology designed to store, analyze, manage and present geographical data. Both courses were created by Wave Hill’s Educators with experts in the field and enable interns to earn college credits.

Interns are assigned to a site in Wave Hill’s woodland to collect data and perform ecological restoration. Working in groups, students are assigned a scientist mentor who helps them develop a substantial research project that demonstrates their ability to conduct high-level research and communicate scientific findings. Projects have included “Habitat Use and Activity Patterns of NYC’s Urban Wildlife” and “New York Botanical Garden Forest Damage Assessment.”

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