Yale University's Peabody Museum Awarded $350,000 Grant To Bring Science to Life for New Haven Public School Students

Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History has received a $350,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute – HHMI – to fund a four-year comprehensive scientific educational program for New Haven teachers, schoolchildren and their families. The museum will work with the New Haven Public Schools, L.E.A.P. – Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership, and the Eli Whitney Museum to develop and implement programs to strengthen scientific literacy in the city.

The grant will build upon the Peabody Museum’s long-standing tradition of community outreach and education, and will fund focused efforts on the theme of biological diversity with four New Haven elementary schools and with L.E.A.P. Four additional schools will be added each year in the grant’s third and fourth years for a total of 12 schools.

The goal of the grant is to educate and excite New Haven students to experience the diversity of the natural world, and to generate knowledge, understanding, and a positive attitude toward scientific inquiry.

Peabody Museum Director Richard L. Burger said: “The program aims to make a substantial and lasting impact on science education within the New Haven community. It also represents a community initiative that Yale University strongly supports, with teachers, educators, students and scientists from many sectors of the community working together toward a common goal.”

The main components of the HHMI-funded program are:

* Peabody Fellows: Selected 3rd-5th grade teachers from the four New Haven elementary schools will participate as fellows in a summer institute, workshops, and seminars, developing thematic units on biological diversity.

* Action Lab: A mobile unit will be constructed that will include hands-on specimens, dissecting microscopes and a library. The mobile unit will visit New Haven schools and L.E.A.P. sites.

* Family Programming: Museum visits for schoolchildren and their families will be facilitated throughout the school year and during the summer.

* Curriculum Development: The theme of biological diversity will be further developed for after-school programs through partnership with L.E.A.P. and made available on the Internet.

Reginald Mayo, Ph.D., superintendent of New Haven Public Schools, said: “This new collaboration between Yale and the New Haven Public Schools aligns with our new comprehensive curriculum framework for the school system and facilitates our efforts to define our science curriculum. The opportunity for New Haven teachers to be Peabody Fellows will not only enhance their own professional development in exciting new ways, but provide useful thematic units for classroom use.”

Also collaborating on the grant are the Yale Office of New Haven Affairs – ONHA – and the Yale Child Study Center. Linda Koch Lorimer, vice president and secretary of Yale, and director of the ONHA, said: “In the past four years, Yale has significantly increased its commitment to our partnerships with the City and citizens of New Haven. The Peabody has a long tradition of public service, and we are particularly enthusiastic about the museum’s leadership in this new community program to promote scientific literacy.”

The Peabody Museum was one of the first natural history museums in this country to develop special programs for schools. This year alone, more than 30,000 children from throughout New England participated in educational programs during school group visits to the museum.

The HHMI grant was the third largest of a total $8 million in grants awarded to 45 museums, botanical gardens, zoos and aquariums through the HHMI precollege science education program. The award provides new resources for the Peabody Museum to fulfill its educational mission, and strengthens ongoing formal efforts by the museum’s educators to teach schoolchildren about earth’s history and the natural world.

HHMI is a medical research organization and the nation’s largest philanthropy, employing scientists in cell biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience and structural biology. HHMI investigators conduct medical research in HHMI-funded laboratories at 72 academic medical centers and universities nationwide, including Yale.

L.E.A.P. is an educational and mentoring program involving about 900 public schoolchildren ages 7 to 14 in nine neighborhoods throughout the state, including more than 500 students in New Haven. Connecticut college and high school students serve as counselors part-time during the school year and full-time for eight weeks each summer. The innovative program began with support from individuals at Yale University and other New Haven institutions in the summer of 1992. Today, L.E.A.P. employs about 275 counselors and staff, and has an annual operating budget of nearly $3.5 million.

The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History is located at 170 Whitney Avenue in New Haven. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children, 3-15, and senior citizens, 65+. Parking is available in the Peabody Museum visitors’ parking lot located one block north of the museum at the intersection of Humphrey Street and Whitney Avenue.

For more information about the HHMI grant, contact:

Peabody Museum of Natural History 170 Whitney Avenue New Haven, CT 06511 Contact: Patty Pedersen, Development Officer, 432-3452 or Richard L. Burger, Director, 432-3752 after Aug. 15

New Haven Public Schools Administrative Offices Gateway Center 54 Meadow Street New Haven, CT 06519 Contact: Reginald Mayo, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools, 946-8888

Yale University Office of New Haven Affairs 433 Temple Street P.O. Box 208332 New Haven, CT 06520-8332 Contact: Michael J. Morand, Assistant Secretary of the University, 432-4082

L.E.A.P. – Leadership, Education and Athletics in Partnership 254 College Street, Suite 501 New Haven, CT 06510 Contact: Henry J. Fernandez, Executive Director, 773-0770

Yale Child Study Center 230 South Frontage Road P.O. Box 207900 New Haven, CT 06520-7900 Contact: Mary Schwab-Stone, MD, 785-2545

Eli Whitney Museum 915 Whitney Avenue Hamden, CT 06517 Contact: William Brown, Director, 777-1833

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