A few weeks back the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science had a media event showcasing the construction progress of that “big box” overlooking Woodall Rogers Freeway. Yes, that big box looking thing is the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science. There are a few things that stood out to me when observing the progress of this enormous and unique structure that will help decorate the cityscape in Dallas. It is architecturally fluid with the cityscape, it’s a lifestyle building that is sustainable and it highlights the need for more science and technology support to the future of Dallas youth. The Museum of Nature & Science is on a 4.7-acre site at 1155 Broom St. at the northwest corner of Woodall Rodgers Freeway and Field Street in Victory Park adjacent to downtown Dallas.
While perusing the new facility, it is clear that Science and Technology education in Dallas is unfortunately following national trends. Scientists and engineers make up 4% of the US workforce and yet they create jobs for the other 96% according to the Metroplex Technology Business Council website.
Not only is demand for scientists and engineers going up but supply is going down, it’s harder to keep students through graduation within STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) programs. At the University of Texas at Dallas, 30% to 40% of freshman engineering majors switch to other degree programs before graduating.
According to Raymond Canham, RichlandCollege’s Executive Dean, School of Mathematics, Science and Health Professions, kids naturally enjoy science. The difficult part is getting them engaged with math, and that commitment needs to happen as early as first grade.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
The museum is just one part of this story. It’s the community aspect of this situation that will hope to inspire children to become future scientists, engineers and mathematicians.
One of the levels in the new museum will include a special children’s museum. This space will be called the Moody Family Children’s Museum that is restricted by age. In this part of the museum, entry is restricted by age with
There will be exhibits, workstations, demonstrations, labs, after school and summer programs, overnight programs, and more. In the Children’s museum, children will have a lot of hands on activities like a dinosaur dig. Activities appropriate for each age level such as babies and toddlers all the way up to the elementary school through high school level. There will be videoconferencing where schoolchildren can learn from groups and organizations around the world. Universities such as SMU and companies such as Exxon Mobil will be contributing expertise, funding and program ideas to inspire children.
Dallas is falling behind in Science, Technology and Math
After reviewing 2010 TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and skills test) results, eighth graders in the Dallas Independent School District accounted for just 64% meeting the science standard in 2010 and 77% meeting the math standard in the English version. For the Spanish version eighth graders met just 45% in the science standard and 69% in the math standard. Nationally, 79% of high school 12th graders are not proficient in science.
Through initiatives by organizations, corporations, universities as well as donors a world class museum experience can be a community initiative to help children get more interested in science and technology which is the cornerstone of moving our economy forward. The new Perot Museum of Science will be a welcome addition to teach kids about technology, math and sustainable living. Partner
About the Museum of Nature & Science. The Museum of Nature & Science – the result of a unique merger in 2006 between the Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Science Place and the Dallas Children’s Museum – is an AAM-accredited non-profit educational organization located in Dallas’ Fair Park. In support of its mission to inspire minds through nature and science, the museum delivers exciting, engaging and innovative visitor experiences through its education, exhibition, and research and collections programming for children, students, teachers, families and life-long learners. The facility also includes the TI Founders IMAX® Theater and a cutting-edge digital planetarium. The Museum of Nature & Science is supported in part by funds from the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, the Texas Commission on the Arts and HP. The Museum of Nature & Science also is building a new $185-million museum on a 4.7-acre site in Victory Park to complement the Fair Park facilities. To learn more about the Museum of Nature & Science, please visit natureandscience.org.