Alvaro Keding/© AMNH
Beyond Elementary Explorations in Science (BEES) pilot program offers a week-long Museum field trip experience for more than 500 students and teachers this academic year
The American Museum of Natural History this week officially launched the Beyond Elementary Explorations in Science (BEES) program, a new educational pilot that offers a week-long field trip experience for New York City public schools. One of three new educational programs launched in conjunction with the opening of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, BEES invites participating classes to treat the entire Museum campus as their classroom for the week and engage with exhibitions, collections, educators, and scientists as part of a curriculum that combines science, math, literacy, and social studies for a hands-on, immersive learning experience.
“A field trip to the American Museum of Natural History has been a rite of passage for generations of New Yorkers, and I know first-hand the profound impact that early exposure to the wonders of science and the natural world can have on the trajectory of your life and career,” said Museum President Sean M. Decatur. “We’re proud to introduce a new, residency field trip experience for this new generation, for what will be a deeply engaging immersion in the Museum’s exhibitions, collections, and research.”
As a top destination for field trips, the Museum serves up to 400,000 school and camp group visitors each year. Whereas the traditional school field trip spans one day, BEES transforms that experience into a cross-curricular, week-long residency, creating a unique “school in a museum” opportunity for students and educators. In social studies, for example, classes might visit the Northwest Coast Hall to engage with Pacific Northwest Coast Native storytelling and history, while in math they can survey massive dinosaur fossils to learn about estimation and scale. In science, students can visit the Solomon Family Insectarium to understand the decline of insect populations worldwide, and the Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium to observe live butterflies and discover the butterfly lifecycle. When not exploring Museum exhibitions, classes will be based in the Gilder Center’s state-of-the art Weston Curiosity Zone classroom suite, where students will participate in hands-on learning activities, interact with live animals, and engage with Museum scientists and science educators. Each residency’s curriculum is co-developed by Museum educators with teachers from the visiting school.
In addition, all teachers participating in BEES will receive resources for continued learning in their classrooms, and families of BEES students will receive complimentary vouchers for future visits. These efforts build on the Museum’s hallmark Urban Advantage (UA) program, a citywide partnership between the New York City Department of Education and cultural organizations that launched in 2004 and served nearly 100,000 City students in 2022. In its pilot year, BEES will work with classes from UA schools and provide participating groups with bus travel to and from the Museum.
Teaching and Learning at the American Museum of Natural History
Since its founding in 1869, the Museum, with its mission of scientific research and science education, has played a unique role in the educational life of New York City and beyond. In addition to field trips, which are free for participating New York City public schools, the Museum’s educational offerings range from classes for young children to mentored research experiences for high school students, and professional development programs for teachers. Graduate level programs are offered through the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School, including the Ph.D. program in comparative biology, as well as the Master of Arts in Teaching Earth Science residency program, which has prepared 167 Earth Science teachers, reaching approximately 80,000 students in New York and beyond, since 2012.
The Gilder Center opened in May and represents the most comprehensive addition and modernization of educational space at the Museum in a century with new classrooms, learning labs, and educational areas. In addition to BEES, new educational offerings based in the Gilder Center include programs in the Learning with Data classroom that teach students to practice computational thinking and data analysis, and those in the Studio that provide opportunities for high school and college students to develop competencies for jobs in fast-growing career fields.
American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869 with a dual mission of scientific research and science education, is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses more than 40 permanent exhibition halls, galleries for temporary exhibitions, the Rose Center for Earth and Space including the Hayden Planetarium, and the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. The Museum’s scientists draw on a world-class permanent collection of more than 34 million specimens and artifacts, some of which are billions of years old, and on one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, the Museum offers two of the only free-standing, degree-granting programs of their kind at any museum in the U.S.: the Ph.D. program in Comparative Biology and the Master of Arts in Teaching Earth Science Residency Program. Visit amnh.org for more information.
The American Museum of Natural History gratefully acknowledges Richard Gilder and the Gilder Foundation, Inc., whose leadership support has made the construction of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation possible.
The Gilder Center is also made possible thanks to the generous support of the City of New York, the Council of the City of New York, the Manhattan Borough President, the State of New York, the New York State Assembly, and the New York State Senate.
Critical founding support has been provided by David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman; Kenneth C. Griffin; Allison and Roberto Mignone; the Davis Family; the Bezos Family Foundation; Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.; the Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family; Judy and Josh Weston; the Macaulay Family Foundation; Katheryn C. Patterson and Thomas L. Kempner, Jr.; New York Life Foundation; the Seedlings Foundation in honor of Michael Vlock; the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Foundation; Valerie and Jeffrey Peltier; Morgan Stanley; The Marc Haas Foundation in honor of Robert H. Haines; The Hearst Foundations; Joella and John Lykouretzos; the Yurman Family; the Charina Endowment Fund; Nancy Peretsman and Robert Scully; Shaiza Rizavi and Jonathan Friedland; Nancy B. and Hart Fessenden; Keryn and Ted Mathas; Elysabeth Kleinhans; the Estate of Margaret D. Bishop; the Henry Peterson Foundation; and an anonymous donor.
The Museum’s BEES program is supported by the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.
Public support for the Urban Advantage program is provided by the Speaker and Council of the City of New York, and the New York City Department of Education.