On display Wednesday at Oldfield Middle School in Greenlawn was the museum's mobile classroom, a bus that is a gift from the American Museum of Natural History. The 37-foot bus is lined with five stations that educators use to show how to study astronomy. The National Grid Foundation helps support the "Traveling Classroom: Discovering the Universe" program.
“At a time when many institutions have to cut programs, the Vanderbilt is pleased to be able to expand its education outreach,” said Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum. “Our Traveling Classroom – and our partnership with the National Grid Foundation – will enable us to enhance the Vanderbilt’s longtime role as an adjunct to the science curriculum in local schools. The Discovering the Universe program perfectly complements our planetarium programs by providing students with observation principles for studying space.”
Discovering the Universe is designed to meet state standards for mathematics, science and technology. The classroom's five stations are: light, telescope, digital imaging, 3-D universe, and gravity. Each offers hands-on interactive exhibitions that engage visitors in different topics. Inside the bus Wednesday, museum educators demonstrated how to use the stations to a group of eager science club students.
The museum will provide materials before and after visits to teachers, who will also be surveyed to measure the success of the program.
Reflecting its visitor base, the museum will take the bus to schools around Long Island.
Bob Keller, president of the National Grid Foundation, said, “We are thrilled to be partnering with the Vanderbilt, one of Long Island’s premier museums. With their highly skilled team of educators and a state-of-the-art planetarium, we are certain that the Vanderbilt will play an even larger role in promoting student interest in science.”