Hundreds of students, teachers, families celebrate pioneering program

On Saturday, June 7, the American Museum of Natural History hosted one of the largest science fairs in New York City to celebrate the historic 10th anniversary of the citywide Urban Advantage Middle School Science Program, an extraordinary effort that has helped tens of thousands of students, their families and hundreds of teachers tap into the resources of eight of the finest science-based institutions in the country.

More than 900 middle school students from across the city showcased their mastery of science, technology, engineering and math topics, with more than 400 science projects on topics ranging from the causes of sleep paralysis to the effect of fin design on a rocket’s flight performance.

One of the Urban Advantage schools participating in the massive expo was I.S. 171 Patrick Henry Preparatory School in East Harlem.

“In an increasingly high-tech world, these talented young New Yorkers show us the bright potential of this city’s future,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I congratulate and thank the American Museum of Natural History and the Urban Advantage partners for 10 successful years of the Urban Advantage Science Program.

“Programs such as these are a true investment in the future, and the City Council is proud to have long supported the endeavors of the American Museum of Natural History and the Urban Advantage partners. I look forward to seeing many more students benefit from the opportunities this program provides in the future as our partnership continues.”

Through a public-private partnership involving the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Council—along with a museum-led consortium of eight institutions that also includes the New York Hall of Science, the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the New York Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Queens Botanical Garden and the Staten Island Zoo—the Urban Advantage Program provides a comprehensive framework for teaching and learning that is grounded in encounters with authentic science and emphasizes evidence-based inquiry.

The program has expanded dramatically since it being introduced in 2004. This year, more than 514 teachers and 51,351 students at 177 schools in all five boroughs of New York City—almost one-third of the city’s public middle schools—participated in Urban Advantage. This pioneering science education program has already expanded beyond New York City, with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science implementing Urban Advantage Metro Denver with two other partners and three school districts in Colorado.