MICRO creates six-foot-tall science museums with the goal of creating a science education experience that is accessible to underserved populations.
Museums are typically clustered in wealthy neighborhoods and their visitor demographics are narrow: 90% of visitors are white. Manhattan has 85 museums while the Bronx has eight. Of all the museums in New York City, only five are math or science-related (and none of these are located in the Bronx).
We supported two strategic partnerships—between MICRO and Lincoln Hospital and between MICRO and the Bronx Family Court—in order to decentralize the museum model by reproducing and distributing MICRO’s small-scale museums in locations where underserved families and children have limited educational opportunities.
Lincoln Medical Center is located in a district in the South Bronx that has the highest unemployment rate (11.1%), the lowest mean household income ($42,081), and the lowest high school graduation rate (65.5%) in all of New York State. The hospital is currently one of MICRO’s most heavily trafficked venues, with an estimated 65,000 visitors engaging with the museum’s Smallest Mollusk Museum.
Thanks to Heckscher, MICRO launched the pilot year of the MICRO Explorer Program, which employs and trains high school students in science communication and empowers them to build interpersonal skills and confidence to deliver free public S.T.E.M. programming across the MICRO museum network. From giving tours to workshopping programming ideas with leading science communicators across the city, the Explorer Program gives NYC youth the opportunity to gain real-world, paid work experience in education, curriculum development, and public speaking. The MICRO Explorers connect communities in conversations around science and the world we all share, expanding access to fundamental knowledge.Amanda Schochet, Co-Founder, MICRO
The Bronx Family Court hears matters involving abuse, neglect, foster care, and juvenile delinquency, and lacks opportunities for children and families to engage in positive educational experiences. The Smallest Mollusk Museum in the Bronx is the borough’s first and only science museum.
We conceived of an additional feature of the exhibits and funded the first MICRO Museum Explorer Program which recruited bilingual local high school students to activate MICRO museums, intentionally engaging youth in the installations and deepening visitor engagement beyond just the exhibit. Explorers lead tours and activities under the supervision of MICRO staff after school and on weekends. This program has the potential to increase exposure to and engagement with science learning for an exponential number of youth within the South Bronx and other low-income communities within New York City.