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Reuben H. Fleet Science Center to participate in NSF STEM/Arts grant to Balboa Park Cultural Partnership


Written by: Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
Date: September 21, 2012

Over the next four years, this grant will fund arts-based incubators for innovation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning.


Category: Press Releases

National Science Foundation awards $2.6m grant to Balboa Park Cultural Partnership for a national innovation incubator project integrating arts-based-learning and STEM in San Diego, Chicago, and Worcester (MA).

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center delighted to participate!

San Diego, Calif. -- The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant of $2,654,895 to the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (Partnership) for phase 2 of the Art of Science Learning Initiative, a project entitled "Integrating Informal STEM and Arts-Based Learning to Foster Innovation." Harvey Seifter, Art of Science Learning founder/director, is the project's director and principal investigator. Paige Simpson, the Partnership's Interim Executive Director and Director of the Balboa Park Learning Institute, is project administrator.

Over the next four years, this grant will fund arts-based incubators for innovation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) learning in San Diego, Chicago and Worcester, Mass, as well as the development of a new arts-based STEM curriculum; experimental research to measure the impact of arts-based learning on creativity, collaboration and innovation; and public programs using the project's activities to advance civic engagement with STEM.

The incubators – hosted by San Diego's Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry and Worcester's Science and Nature Center, EcoTarium – will bring together 30 cross-disciplinary innovation teams of STEM professionals, artists, educators, business leaders and students. The teams will learn arts-based techniques for generating, transforming, prototyping and communicating creative ideas and apply them to STEM-related civic innovation challenges. Participants will also collaborate on the development of new educational projects that integrate arts-based approaches into STEM learning.

Deborah Klochko, President of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and Executive Director of the Museum of Photographic Arts remarked: "We are enthusiastic about the opportunities afforded us by this groundbreaking project. As nonprofit art, cultural, and science institutions, the work we accomplish on a daily basis relies on the critical ability to integrate innovative methods of learning to solve 21st century challenges. We look forward to demonstrating the success of this approach to the global learning community through the work we will undertake in this Innovation Incubator."

Dr. Jeffrey Kirsch, Executive Director of the Reuben H Fleet Science Center, concurs: "The concept of integrating art-based learning into STEM is a unique opportunity for the Fleet Science Center. STEM is already at the heart of everything we do as a Science Center. Our public programs, summer camps, school programs, teacher workshops, outreach programs, and exhibits are all related to science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Art-based learning will add another aspect to all we do. We are delighted that topics that are our core focus are gaining national interest, and we look forward to these opportunities to expand our reach to a broader audience and playing an integral role in the project along with the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and other organizations across the United States."

Innovation festivals, art/science innovation symposia, prototype demonstrations and a culminating interactive exhibition, created by the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego and traveling to each incubator site, will reach national audiences with compelling stories about the civic impact of innovation at the intersection of art, science and learning. The exhibition will launch as a key element of the 2015 Centennial Celebration in Balboa Park, which will honor the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and set the stage for the next 100 years, with a focus on innovation.

National partners for this project include the Association of Science-Technology Centers, American Association for the Advancement of Science and Americans for the Arts. The project is supported by a distinguished national advisory council and a network of local and regional partners and advisors in all three incubator sites.

The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (Partnership) is a nonprofit created in 2003 that facilitates collaboration among 27 diverse arts, science, and cultural institutions in San Diego's historic Balboa Park. Through collaboration, Partnership members speak with one voice on issues of mutual importance, reduce expenses, attract new resources, and help innovate new practices—achieving more collectively than would be possible individually. This work is carried out in a range of activities, from collective purchasing and "green" sustainability improvements to advocacy, joint programming, and professional development (delivered through the Balboa Park Learning Institute). Working together, the Park institutions are creating the best "Balboa Park Experience" for people who visit, work in, and/or partner with the Park. The Partnership represents 3000 staff, 7000 volunteers and 500 trustees working to serve 6.5 million visitors to Park institutions annually.

The Art of Science Learning is a national initiative that uses the arts to spark creativity in science education and foster the development of a skilled 21st Century STEM workforce. In 2011, the initiative's first phase explored the connection between arts-based learning, scientific innovation, and economic competitiveness; convening more than 400 scientists, artists, educators, researchers, business leaders and policymakers from across the country to participate in regional conferences at the Smithsonian Institution, CalIT2/UCSD and Illinois Institute of Technology.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion, NSF issues limited-term grants -- currently about 10,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years -- to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. NSF's goals--discovery, learning, research infrastructure and stewardship--provide an integrated strategy to advance the frontiers of knowledge, cultivate a world-class, broadly inclusive science and engineering workforce and expand the scientific literacy of all citizens, build the nation's research capability through investments in advanced instrumentation and facilities, and support excellence in science and engineering research and education through a capable and responsive organization. NSF is "where discoveries begin."

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center ("the Fleet") is home to Southern California's only IMAX® Dome Theater and 100+ hands-on science exhibits for all ages. Watch immersive giant-screen films in the Heikoff Dome Theater, featuring the world's first NanoSeam™ Dome screen in an IMAX Theater. The Fleet is the first Giant Dome Theater in the country to share a digital planetarium with an IMAX Dome theater, following the recent installation of a new, state-of-the-art, giant dome screen digital GSX™ system from Global Immersion, which augments the existing IMAX® projector in the Heikoff Dome Theater with one of the most comprehensive and powerful fulldome experiences available today. The digital system not only enhances our planetarium capabilities but expands the possibilities for sustainable institutional programming that could include evening programming with cultural content of various kinds. Experience eight galleries of fun, interactive exhibits, including major traveling exhibitions. A hurricane simulator thrills visitors with gusts of wind up to 80 miles per hour. Enjoy sandwiches, salads and healthy treats in Galileo's Café. Find unique educational toys and games, books, IMAX DVDs and more in the North Star Science Store. Located at 1875 El Prado, two blocks south of the San Diego Zoo on Park Blvd, the Fleet Science Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the public understanding and enjoyment of science and technology. For information regarding current admission prices, please call (619) 238-1233 or visit our website at

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