July 1, 2014
Hosting hundreds of fifth graders from eight Pueblo schools for their solar car races, providing parent/child science classes for families experiencing homelessness, and serving pizza alongside science activities to thousands of families from APS Title I schools during Family Science Nights—these are just a few of the reasons that Explora, Albuquerque’s innovative science learning center, was recognized recently with a Noyce Foundation Bright Lights Community Engagement Award.
The Noyce Foundation (Palo Alto, CA) created the Bright Lights initiative to recognize U.S. science centers, children’s museums, and natural history museums that have done an outstanding job of systemic engagement with their local communities. Of particular interest were outreach efforts that included science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). Ninety-four museums submitted applications. After three intensive rounds of judging by fifteen expert judges, only seven museums were selected as truly exceptional for the depth, breadth, and impact of their community outreach work. The goal of the Bright Lights Award was to discover and shine a light on those willing to embrace their communities in new and profound ways.
The Noyce Foundation explained their selection of Explora as a winner as follows, “Explora reached out to every community-based organization they could find to explore what they could achieve together as partners. The result is the discovery of atypical science center partners, and a significant increase in families and underserved populations finding a home and sense of belonging in the science center.” Explora’s Community Partner Membership Program disseminates no-cost family memberships to Explora through partner nonprofits, social service organizations, and Title I schools. Currently, over 10,500 families from more than 50 organizations have Community Partner Memberships.
Besides the Community Partner Membership Program, Explora’s recent community engagement initiatives have included community listening sessions with several groups around the city and new projects co-developed with partners. For example, Explora, Partnership for Community Action, and Sandia National Labs have collaborated on a new engineering club, facilitated in Spanish, for immigrant families in Albuquerque’s South Valley. Explora and the NM Autism Society are working together to develop support materials that families with children on the autism spectrum can use when they visit Explora. These are examples of why Explora is viewed nationally as a Bright Light, working systemically with community partners to address serious community conditions.
Other Bright Lights Award recipients are: Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, WA; Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN; Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA; Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, FL; The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA; and the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA.
Thank you, Explora visitors, for your high ratings on TripAdvisor.com, which helped us earn a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014.
December 2014Thanks, Albuquerque the Magazine readers and editors, for voting Explora as one of the Top 5 in the "Best Museum" category and as the winner of the "Best Place for Rainy Day" in 2014. Thanks again, Albuquerque the Magazine readers, and hope to see you soon. We'll have new exhibits and programs in the upcoming year!
May 16, 2014
Thanks, FlipKey by TripAdvisor and your travelers, for selecting Explora as New Mexico's Top Family Attraction Worth Traveling For in 2014! So many traveling families play, learn, and grow together at Explora each year, visiting from all corners of the United States and world; we hope to see your family soon!
June 30, 2014
Thank you, Albuquerque Journal readers, for selecting Explora as the winner in the Children's Entertainment category, and also third place for Best Museum, in the Journal's 2014 Reader's Choice Awards.
April 18, 2013
Explora is one of three honorees in the Education category in the inaugural awards program of Albuquerque Business First, which will recognize 24 nonprofits for their outstanding contributions to their local community.
“Albuquerque Business First’s audience represents some of the most actively involved, philanthropic and influential leaders in the nonprofit community. New Mexico has an incredibly robust nonprofit sector, and the need for nonprofits’ services has only grown during the economic downturn. Our Nonprofit of the Year awards recognize the fantastic work our state’s nonprofits are doing to address New Mexico’s greatest needs,” Publisher Ian Anderson said.Albuquerque Business First asked the public to nominate their favorite organizations for the Nonprofit of the Year awards, and close to 400 nominations poured in. Nominated organizations were asked to submit an application detailing their work and sharing testimonials from those who have benefited from their services. The applicants were evaluated by a group of leaders in the business community who have extensive knowledge of New Mexico’s philanthropic sector through board service and other work. Judges evaluated the nonprofit organizations on their mission, impact, innovation and the sustainability of the organization (its ability to continue providing services into the future). Honoree organizations were selected in seven categories: arts, culture and humanities; crisis resources; education; environment and animals; family services; health and human services; and public and societal benefit.
March 14, 2013
Thank you to Albuquerque’s Local iQ readers, for deciding Explora is the best place to let your inner child out, to explore, and experiment with things in new ways. Come and visit us soon, and discover something new to experience. Check out our school break camps, our Adult Nights for ages 18+, PoP public science programs for the whole family, plus educational semester-long programs for all ages. See you soon. Thanks again, Albuquerque the Magazine readers and editors!
December 2010 - Albuquerque, New Mexico
Explora in Albuquerque has been named one of 5 museums and 5 libraries to receive the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor for the 17,500 museums and libraries in the United States.
Recipients of the annual award, made by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), are selected based upon their sustained commitment and outstanding contributions to the communities they serve. Explora will receive the National Medal at a ceremony held later in Washington, D.C., and a $10,000 award in recognition of its extraordinary civic, educational, economic, and social contributions.
“Explora is honored to receive this tremendous recognition," said Dr. Patrick Lopez, Explora’s Executive Director. "We thank the people of Albuquerque and all of New Mexico for making Explora a new kind of learning center that welcomes people of all ages and backgrounds. This award is also a tribute to our staff, board and volunteers for always putting the community first.”
According to IMLS Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel, “This year’s National Medal winners are serving their communities across the country with innovative and creative new approaches to lifelong learning, commitment to addressing diverse community problems, plain old hard work and a lot of heart. Many of our winners have evolved and grown despite tremendous challenges – all to empower and enrich the lives of their community members by cultivating understanding and openness. I am deeply appreciative of their efforts to make a difference. They serve as the nation’s role models.”
Explora is a new kind of learning place, where families learn together and share new experiences about science, technology and art. On any given day at Explora, a visitor may come across children using pipettes to mix colors in test tubes, a father showing his son the mechanics behind musical instruments, teenage friends tinkering with electricity or a grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter exploring the Water of Life; Life of Water exhibit area. Explora offers its community more than 550 inquiry-based programs and exhibits that encourage critical thinking and foster lifelong science learning.
Through its Classroom Explorations initiative, Explora has developed more than 200 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs that travel to every county in New Mexico, and have served 86 of the state’s 89 school districts. Teachers are grateful to have these programs in their classrooms, noticing a difference in students’ understanding of complex scientific subjects. One educator noted, “As we discuss various scientific concepts, [my students] now have a quicker, more accurate grasp because of the hands-on activities you provided.” In addition, Explora travels three different sets of tabletop exhibits to libraries and community centers around New Mexico.
For preschoolers and their caregivers, Explora offers the biweekly Growing a Scientist program, in which children and parents learn basic science principles through playful experiences. Teens on free or reduced-price school lunch can participate in the Youth Intern Program, where they learn to facilitate scientific programs for children. The interns take Explora programs and exhibits into the community, using their expertise to make science learning come alive.
Understanding the critical importance of engaging families, not just children, in scientific activity, Explora created Family Science Nights for Title I schools. These special evenings give students, teachers, principals and extended family members the opportunity to investigate Explora’s multi-outcome exhibits and follow their own lines of thinking in a safe, bilingual environment. Forty-five percent of Explora’s staff is bilingual and exhibit signs are in Spanish and English.
Explora has a worldwide reputation for developing small-scale exhibits with transactive qualities. Both the exhibits and their users can change in unexpected ways, and the exhibits retain evidence of previous activity. Explora’s exhibit environments are semi-private spaces to support prolonged engagement, focused, thoughtful inquiry, and easy conversation.
The design of Explora’s exhibit areas promotes family learning and collaboration. “Our goal is to be inclusive,” explains Paul Tatter, associate director. “The more comfortable people are at Explora, the more freely ideas flow at the exhibit areas, and the more people of all ages learn.” This multi-generational focus has enduring results, with more than 5,600 families holding memberships. What’s more, of these families, 71 percent visit Explora three or more times each year; 61 percent visit four or more times; and 262 families visit more than 20 times a year, indicating that Explora plays a significant role in many families’ lives. Explora served 225,000 attendees last year.
In addition to Explora, other recipients of the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service are the:
Any individual may nominate a museum and/or library in the United States and its territories for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. Members of the National Museum and Library Services Board, the Institute’s presidentially-appointed policy advisory board, review the nominations and make recommendations to the Institute Director who selects the winners. To view nomination information, please go to www.imls.gov/medals. The deadline for 2011 nominations is February 15, 2011.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.