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Urban Advantage: Formal-Informal Collaborations to Improve Science Learning and Teaching

Jim Short, American Museum of Natural History; Kathleen Tinworth, ExposeYourMuseum LLC

In this session, presenters discuss how museum-based research and development projects in New York City and Denver are transforming formal-informal collaborations to improve science learning and teaching in urban school systems. Urban Advantage (UA) programs in both cities will share challenges and lessons learned from projects aimed at scaffolding students’ interests, building on what they know, and providing experiences to engage students directly in scientific inquiry. Presenters will discuss teacher professional development and broad access to high-quality STEM learning opportunities.


About the Presenters:
Jim Short, Director, Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning, American Museum of Natural History
Jim Short is the director of the Gottesman Center for Science Teaching and Learning in the Education Department of the American Museum of Natural History. He is the PI of Urban Advantage, a formal/informal partnership program in science education with seven other informal science education institutions and the New York City Department of Education that serves over 120 middle schools and almost 400 science teachers. In the past, Short has worked at Denver Public Schools as a science curriculum coordinator. As a result of his work, the district implemented a new district-wide science program that included several inquiry-oriented, research-based science curricula that were developed for elementary, middle school, and high school science. Short also worked at the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) for five years, after 11 years of working in schools as a teacher and science administrator. He worked in the BSCS Center for Professional Development and was the project director of the Science Curriculum Implementation Center and director of the National Academy for Curriculum Leadership. His work at BSCS helped develop the National Academy for Curriculum Leadership into an intensive professional development and technical assistance program supporting the implementation of K–12 standards-based, inquiry-oriented instructional materials in science education. Short was also the director of science education for Edison Schools and has 10 years of teaching experience at the middle and high school levels. Short received his BS in Biology from Rhodes College, a MEd in Science Education from the Peabody College for Teachers at Vanderbilt University, and his EdD in Curriculum and Teaching with an emphasis on Educational Leadership and Professional Development from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Kathleen Tinworth, Principal, ExposeYourMuseum LLC
Prior to becoming a principal at ExposeYourMuseum, Kathleen Tinworth led the Department of Audience Insights (formerly called Visitor Research & Program Evaluation) at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) since 2007. She is the research lead on grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Tinworth is PI of the Efficacy Study of Metropolitan Denver's Urban Advantage Program: A Project to Improve Scientific Literacy Among Urban Middle School Students. She also leads the Denver-area Evaluation Network, a collaboration of 12 area cultural institutions committed to measuring audience outcomes across diverse informal learning settings and supported by IMLS. In addition to Tinworth’s role at DMNS, she offers limited research and evaluation consultancy services through ExposeYourMuseum LLC. Her primary areas of research are non-visiting audiences, evaluation capacity building, online/social media/mobile evaluation, and data visualization. Tinworth is a board member of the Visitor Studies Association and co-chair for the Arts, Culture, and Audience group of the American Evaluation Association. She graduated from New York University and holds an MS in Investigative Psychology from the University of Liverpool (England).