The Intrepid Museum’s Education Department has long been part of New York City’s educational ecosystem, providing free and low-cost programs that serve tens of thousands of young people every year. Through virtual field trips, the Museum has reached over 15,400 students from four continents and more than 20 countries, traveling 800,000 virtual miles since 2016. The Museum also regularly delivers distance programming that serves home and hospital-bound veterans and homebound seniors.
Under the current landscape as school districts, teachers and parents have been forced to rapidly move to and adjust to virtual learning, the Museum was well-positioned to help fill the gap through compelling content delivered by its team of seasoned and engaging educators.
Dedicated to continuing to serve our audience when they need it most, the Museum has set up a schedule of free school programs, Monday through Friday, that offers a rotation of aviation science, space science, and history programs for which teachers and homeschooling parents can register their students. Twice weekly, we are offering free family-oriented programs which often include a hands-on activity for a more interactive experience.
Thus far, in just the first couple of weeks, more than 1,000 participants have joined us for these regularly scheduled programs, with an overwhelmingly positive response. Among the range of enthusiastic comments we have received are:
“My kids loved the experiments”; “A lot of fun, especially for my seven-year-old son”; “Our almost five-year-old is a space nut and LOVED this program!”; “Being able to experience a tour of a museum while in this isolation made me feel better socially.”
To serve all audiences, we have used remote learning platforms to continue to provide programs for students with disabilities and seniors, and to host programs, especially for veterans, like a recent event with the Museum’s curator of history discussing the contributions of women in World War II. For those for whom a computer-based experience may not be optimal, such as older adults with dementia, we are able to adapt in different ways such as sending packets of materials in advance.
Our teen leadership program hosted its first online mentor meetup with three leading women in STEM fields through our Greater Opportunities Advancing Leadership and Science (GOALS) for Girls program, and we are redesigning the upcoming Teen Summit to be delivered in an online platform. Looking ahead, our summer institute for teachers, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and which draws teachers from all over the United States, is also being redesigned to be delivered in the virtual space.
While nothing can ever be the same as walking into the authentic historic spaces of the Intrepid, Concorde, or the submarine Growler, or looking up and realizing you are standing under the space shuttle Enterprise, the remote learning tools available, coupled with the Museum’s digitally accessible collections and the expertise and passion of its educators, allow us to continue to serve our partners and other audiences, fulfilling our mission’s directive to educate the public, honor our heroes and inspire our youth.