The PNC Foundation has awarded the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum
a two-year grant of $384,000 to improve science education for pre-kindergarten students in District of Columbia Public Schools. The Grow Up Great with Science grant was announced today at an educational activity day and press event at the museum’s National Mall building with District of Columbia public school children, who also viewed the Washington, D.C., premiere of Sesame Street’s “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure,” a multi-cultural planetarium show.
This grant provides additional support for the museum’s early-childhood education program established in 2008 with funds from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
“The National Air and Space Museum’s early-childhood program leverages children’s fascination with aviation and space flight to increase their interest in science and to motivate them to explore science and technology in age-appropriate, meaningful ways,” said Gen. J.R. “Jack” Dailey, director of the museum.
“Our support of the National Air and Space Museum is another strategic investment to help our non-profit partners, preschools and caregivers develop stronger, smarter and healthier families and communities,” said James E. Rohr, chairman and CEO of The PNC Financial Services Group, the principal funding source of the PNC Foundation. “Through these grants, we expect children will enjoy meaningful experiences that would not otherwise be possible.”
The program’s goal is to improve science instruction in pre-kindergarten classrooms in the District of Columbia Public Schools by providing targeted and high-quality professional development and support for pre-kindergarten teachers.
“As we continue to increase our early-childhood offerings by launching new programs and expanding successful ones, we are delighted to partner with the PNC Foundation and the National Air and Space Museum to deliver a broader-based curriculum,” said Chancellor Michelle Rhee. “It is our responsibility to introduce students to science at an earlier age and hopefully encourage them to explore all of their options.”
The museum will work with the district to design a professional development program, composed of pre-kindergarten science literacy courses, that is grounded in research-based best practices. This partnership will be phased over a two-year period to include program design, curriculum development and the compilation of museum-based experiences that are central to student learning. In addition, at the end of the initiative, the project will have directly served 20 teachers, 20 teaching assistants and 600 students.
On the last Saturday of the month through the summer, children and families can also enjoy free admission to “One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure.” The planetarium show follows Elmo, Big Bird and Hu Hu Zhu—a Muppet from the Chinese co-production of “Sesame Street”—as they explore each others’ cultures and travel to the moon. In addition, groups of 50 or more will be able to schedule special on-demand morning screenings of “One World, One Sky” at the National Air and Space Museum on the Mall in Washington, D.C., at reduced costs.