There’s more than a geographical separation between low-income school kids and the Museum at Prairiefire in suburban Overland Park.
But the museum hopes to bridge that gap by helping to connect those kids not only with the museum but with science education in general.
Prairiefire, which is affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History, is forging a new program called KC Urban Advantage, which will provide field trips to the museum as well as curriculum materials for teachers. It is part of a larger effort to build partnerships with other educational institutions as well as the private sector.
The Museum at Prairiefire has a founding sponsor in the engineering firm Black & Veatch to promote science, technology, engineering and math education. It also is working with the Kansas City Zoo, St. Luke’s Health System, Baker University, the University of Kansas and others.
KC Urban Advantage is designed to improve science literacy by making educational resources accessible to all students in the urban core and beyond, according to an announcement from the museum.
The first year goal is to raise $200,000 to bring KC Urban Advantage to three schools in Kansas City, two in Kansas City, Kan., and one in Olathe.
“We’re focusing on (grades) K through 5,” said Donna Deeds, president of the Museum at Prairiefire. “We want to catch them before they head to middle school. The data suggests you tend to lose them (after that), especially our female students.”
The hope is to reach 100,000 students over three years. Students will be brought to the Museum at Prairiefire for half-day or full-day STEM experiences in addition to other activities in the classroom and elsewhere.
The Museum at Prairiefire drew more than 7,000 children in the first quarter of 2016. They came from more than 40 school districts, 59 private schools, 22 home-school groups and other organizations.
KC Urban Advantage is modeled on similar programs that began in 2004 in New York City and in 2010 in Denver.
A fundraising gala called Night at the Museum is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Aug. 27 at the museum, 5801 W. 135th St. For more information, go to museumatpf.org.
A fundraising gala called Night at the Museum is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Aug. 27 at the museum, 5801 W. 135th St. For more information, go to museumatpf.org