Monday, May 6, 2024
Denver Museum brings exhibits to underserved communities.

Denver Museum brings exhibits to underserved communities.

Coloradoans’ Love for Learning

Coloradans are enthusiastic about expanding their knowledge of the world around them, as evidenced by the increasing number of visitors to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. According to data compiled by the museum, attendance is up by approximately 10 percent this summer compared to the previous summer, with thousands of guests flocking to the museum each month.

Bringing Lessons to Underserved Communities

The team at the museum is well aware that not everyone has the opportunity to visit the museum in person. To address this, they have come up with an innovative solution – taking their lessons on the road. For the past year, the museum has been utilizing the “Curiosity Cruiser,” a brightly-colored trailer equipped with materials for various scientific lessons. Led by educators and drivers like Zack Garvin, the Curiosity Cruiser makes regular visits to different Colorado communities, selecting a scientific topic to focus on during each visit.

Garvin emphasizes the importance of reaching underserved community members and partners, stating, “We want to make sure we’re serving the greatest amount of underserved community members and partners that we can.” The Curiosity Cruiser aims to break down barriers to learning opportunities by bringing educational experiences directly to these communities.

Exploring the World of Flavor

On a typical day with the Curiosity Cruiser, the team selects a scientific topic to delve into. For example, on a recent visit to the Huerta Urbana Farmers Market, they explored the concept of “flavorology.” This lesson focused on the ability of taste and how our genetics can influence our perception of food. The venue was chosen deliberately, as the market follows a pay-what-you-can model, providing access to fresh food for individuals in the Globeville area, regardless of their ability to pay. By aligning the lesson with the setting, the team aimed to make the learning experience more relevant and relatable.

Addressing Disparities in Science Education

The Curiosity Cruiser represents the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s effort to confront the barriers that some individuals face when it comes to accessing learning opportunities. Examining Colorado state testing data from 2019, it was found that only about 36 percent of fifth graders met or exceeded expectations in science, with an even lower percentage of students receiving free or reduced lunch achieving the same scores. The museum recognizes the importance of demystifying science and making it accessible to all. By bringing their lessons directly to communities, they hope to foster appreciation and understanding of scientific concepts among a broader audience.

Adapting to the Pandemic

The idea for the Curiosity Cruiser has been in development at the museum for years, but it was officially launched in its current form last year. The team has faced the additional challenge of shaping their mission in the midst of the pandemic. Despite the obstacles, the Curiosity Cruiser has traveled to various locations, stretching from Boulder to Brighton and beyond. The team is constantly searching for new opportunities and locations to share their passion for scientific knowledge.

A Mission to Ignite Curiosity

Zack Garvin reiterates that the museum’s mission is to ignite curiosity within the community. He states, “If I can do that by coming to someone’s backyard — and the museum supports this — then we should be doing that.” The Curiosity Cruiser is a tangible manifestation of this mission, reaching individuals right in their own communities and stimulating their interest in science.

For information about upcoming visits by the Curiosity Cruiser, you can find the schedule here.

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About Leif Larsen

Join Leif Larsen, our science blogger extraordinaire, on a journey of discovery through the fascinating worlds of climate change, earth science, energy, environment, and space exploration. With a wealth of knowledge and a passion for exploring the mysteries of the universe, Leif delivers insightful and thought-provoking posts that offer a unique perspective on the latest developments in the world of science. Read him to unlock the secrets of the natural world, from the deepest oceans to the furthest reaches of the cosmos!

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