About Our Project
Please note that as of January 2006, the Math Momentum in Science Centers project has ended. However, we are maintaining this website as a resource and a way to share our work.
Science centers offer rich opportunities for visitors to engage in math. The mission of the Math Momentum in Science Centers project is to establish professional development resources for science centers to help them make the math in their exhibits and programming more explicit and accessible. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation and led by TERC in collaboration with the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and a
core group of science center partners and advisors.
Please read on for further history and description of the project. Or, find out more about our Participants, Resources, and Workshops & Events on the rest of our site.
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Project History and Partners:
TERC and ASTC are ideal partners for this multi-faceted project focused on building math capacity in science centers. The institutions are leaders in their fields, with decades of experience in mathematics education, informal math and science education, science center partnerships, educational equity, and professional development.
TERC is internationally known for the development and implementation of innovative math, science, and technology-based materials for students and teachers. TERC's mission is to ensure that all children have the best available hands-on math and science opportunities. A non-profit organization, TERC is led by museum educator Dr. Dennis Bartels, and employs about 140 staff, including teachers, developmental psychologists, educational researchers, mathematicians, and scientists. TERC views professional development as a necessary foundation for mathematics reform and has established its own highly regarded self-sustaining workshop series for teachers in mathematics.
Experiential learning in science is a tradition with ASTC and its more than 540 member institutions in 40 countries. ASTC brings extensive experience in building the capacity of its members to better serve the needs of their communities. ASTC fosters professional growth by beginning with core groups of members, combining intense professional development programs (often in partnership with other organizations) with ongoing support and networking, and following up with information dissemination and learning opportunities for the broader membership. This process has enabled science centers to improve the accessibility of their facilities and exhibits, develop effective long-term programs for underserved youth, and develop and sustain partnerships with community-based organizations.
Historically, science centers have included little explicit focus on mathematics, though mathematics is central to much of the science they do. Science center staff want to incorporate more mathematics into their programs, but are limited by a lack of familiarity with this area and by a lack of staff development opportunities. Increased mathematics capacity is especially critical at this point in time, as schools, afterschool programs, communities, and families increasingly rely on science centers as educational resources. Science centers have a vast potential to empower visitors to use mathematical tools to illuminate science. Teaming up with a distinguished group of science centers, TERC and ASTC hope to help create momentum for making math more explicit and accessible in science centers.
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The project is building mathematical capacity in science centers through professional development of science center staff from diverse institutions nationwide.
Science center staff are being given the opportunity to explore how to capitalize on the math in their environments through workshops, technical assistance, and materials focusing on data, measurement, and algebra. Learning opportunities will be extended with the addition of online materials. The project is:
- Working with a core group of thirteen science center partners who are extending their own mathematical capacity through the development of a math-related project and who are serving as hosts of one-day workshops. Work with these core sites informs the design of the project's major professional development tools.
- Designing, implementing, and institutionalizing one-day workshops and online materials focused on data, measurement, and algebra. The project’s one-day workshops, offered throughout the country, provide science center staff and their community partners with the opportunity to explore inquiry-based math in a science center environment.
- Providing opportunities for a broader audience of science center staff, community partners, and math educators to explore the role of math in science centers.
- Writing and disseminating a "Promising Math Practices in Science Centers" guide describing how science centers are weaving math and equity into their work.
The goal is to offer rich mathematical experiences to science center visitors by giving science center professionals tools and experiences that enable them to:
- Develop a deeper firsthand inquiry-based awareness of math as embodied in science center exhibits and programming; connect these math concepts to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards.
- Explore how math is an important part of a science center's work and how science centers can be a vital resource in informal math learning.
- Look for and find the math embedded in their exhibits and programs; think of new ways to integrate math into their work and to use math to illuminate science.
- Explore mathematical learning environments and how equity and accessibility relate to math learning.
- Develop a vision for increasing the presence of math in their institutions.
- Gain access to a network of people and resources to help them move forward.
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How can I learn more or get involved?
- The Math Momentum in Science Centers project has ended. However, you can learn more about our work through these archived web pages, through contacting staff at TERC, and through contacting participating institutions. Information about the project’s book, to be published in the fall of 2006, will also be made available on this website.