THE WAGNER FREE INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
HONORED BY THE
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF MUSEUMS
The Wagner Free Institute of Science GeoKids Program was presented with the 2006 Excellence in Programming Award by the Education Committee of the American Association of Museums (AAM) at the Association’s annual meeting held in Boston April 27-May 1, 2006. The award recognizes “exemplary creativity and innovation in museum educational programming, as well as leadership within the entire museum community.” GeoKids was specifically recognized as a program that contributes in vital and meaningful ways to its participants by providing quality science education to local schools and serves as an inspiring model for other museums.
GeoKids is a partnership between the Wagner Free Institute of Science and four local elementary schools: Meade Elementary School, Kearny Academics Plus, Reynolds Elementary School, and the Gesu School. Begun in 1992, GeoKids was founded on the belief that children have a natural curiosity about many topics in the earth and life sciences and that study of these subjects at an early age can be an effective vehicle for increasing student interest in science, as well as learning in general.
The program is conducted by professional scientists and educators who work closely with the children and their teachers. It involves extensive across-the-curriculum projects in the classroom, supplemented by regular visits to the museum for specialized lessons. Hands-on learning experiences involving real objects from the natural world are emphasized. In 2002, Saint Joseph’s University became a collaborator and the expanded partnership, GeoKids LINKS, is supported by a GK-12 grant from the National Science Foundation. Since 1992, the program has served more than 3,500 children and 55 classroom teachers. This year, 400 students in grades K–5 are participating in the program.
Dana Semos, Director of Children’s Education at the Wagner Free Institute, accepted the award on behalf of the GeoKids program. She thanked the Education Committee for their recognition of the program. “I also want to acknowledge,” she said, “the hard work that the principals, teachers, Saint Joseph’s University Faculty and Fellows put into the program. We also thank the many donors who make the program possible. Most importantly, though, I want to thank the children who participate in GeoKids. Their enthusiasm and excitement inspires us to improve and expand the program each year.”
Past recipients of this esteemed award include: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Sciences, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and Philadelphia Museum of Art.