New York Hall of Science Launches the Sara Lee Schupf Family Center on Play, Science and Technology Learning
Queens, N.Y. – The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) announces the launch of the Sara Lee Schupf Family Center on Play, Science and Technology Learning (SciPlay), an applied research center for developing state-of-the-art techniques to use play as a vehicle to teach science and technology. The initiative is funded by a leadership gift of $1.5 million from Sara Lee Schupf, including a $500,000 matching component, which, when matched, will yield $2 million for SciPlay.
SciPlay will develop a number of programs and educational materials for students, parents and educators that promote play as a means to engage children in science and technology learning, leveraging new technologies to achieve this goal. NYSCI’s more than 450 hands-on exhibits, particularly its outdoor Science Playground, will be used as a learning laboratory for SciPlay’s program development and related research.
“A child’s natural curiosity and creativity are building blocks for learning science,” says Margaret Honey, President and CEO of the New York Hall of Science. “At NYSCI, play and learning are intertwined in everything we do.”
David Kanter, formerly a faculty member at Temple University and Northwestern University, has been named director of SciPlay. He completed his doctorate in biomedical engineering and advanced training in the Learning Sciences via a National Science Foundation-sponsored fellowship. As director, Kanter will shape the long-term agenda for SciPlay.
“David Kanter is the ideal person to lead SciPlay,” said Honey. “His commitment to science and inquiry-based learning is exemplified by his career in higher education. I have no doubt that under his leadership, SciPlay will be recognized as a center of excellence on play, science and technology learning.”
“SciPlay has been instituted around the belief that play has the unique potential to unlock our innate curiosity,” said Kanter. “It is at this 'sweet spot'—where play and scientific inquiry are mutually reinforcing—that SciPlay will develop its initiatives.”
SciPlay will collaborate closely with teachers to make schoolyard play an occasion for science learning and develop new ways to make classroom learning more participatory and playful. In addition to collaborations with schools and related professional development programs for teachers, SciPlay will also target play-based science learning in out-of-school learning environments like the home and informal science institutions like NYSCI. SciPlay will also serve as an umbrella for a number of initiatives, including partnerships with universities and community organizations and the establishment of a SciPlay Fellows program. Ultimately, SciPlay hopes to play a major role in building a seamless national infrastructure that unifies in- and out-of-school science learning opportunities to support lifelong STEM learning for learners of all ages.
More information about SciPlay and its activities can be found here.