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Howard Hughes Medical Institute to award $8 million in new grants for precollege science programs at science museums, aquaria, botanical gardens and zoos

Howard Hughes Medical Institute to award
$8 million in new grants for precollege science programs at science museums, aquaria, botanical gardens and zoos

Summary

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute announced today that it will award $8 million in four-year grants to encourage the scientific and museum community to work with schools and community groups in expanding opportunities for young people to explore science. It has invited nearly 600 science museums, aquaria, botanical gardens and zoos to submit proposals for the grants, which will range from $100,000 and $500,000 and be awarded in 1997.

"Museums, zoos and other institutions involved in science have a wealth of resources to help get young people excited about exploring nature and carrying out experiments," said Purnell W. Choppin, the Institute's president. "They also can assist teachers and schools in improving science classes and helping students see for themselves what science is all about. We are especially interested in encouraging more girls and youngsters from underrepresented minority groups to pursue science."

The Institute will award the new grants through its precollege science education program, which has awarded $21 million to 93 institutions in three previous competitions since 1992. In 1992 and 1993 the Institute awarded $11 million to 51 museums, aquaria, botanical gardens, and zoos to support innovative science education programs for youngsters. In 1994 it awarded $10 million for science education programs at 42 biomedical research institutions. The grants support a wide variety of efforts, from partnership programs between medical schools and urban schools to summer training programs where teachers learn inexpensive techniques for teaching molecular biology.

In addition, through its undergraduate biological sciences education program, HHMI has provided colleges and universities with more than $65 million since 1988 for outreach programs with elementary, middle and high schools. More than 55,000 precollege students (55 percent women and 52 percent from underrepresented minorities) and 16,400 teachers have benefited from these efforts. The Institute also broadcasts an annual holiday lecture series on science for high school students, sponsors a variety of science education programs in the Washington, D.C., area, and produces educational materials that are widely used in science classrooms nationwide.

"The Institute is supporting some remarkable efforts to get young people involved in science, from students assembling a whale skeleton in Alaska to inner city students studying genetics with medical research teams," said Joseph G. Perpich, HHMI's vice president for grants and special programs. "Through the Institute's precollege initiatives we want the world of science opened not only to the small fraction of young people who will pursue research and teaching careers, but also to the many others who will not."

The new initiative is open to a wide variety of museums, such as children's museums and natural history centers, and to selected aquaria, botanical gardens, arboreta and zoos. A number of related institutions also have been invited to submit proposals, which are expected to focus directly on students, teachers and schools, families and community groups, or some combination of these groups. Applicants also are being encouraged to help develop science kits and educational materials, where appropriate, and to integrate their "informal" science programs effectively with the formal science curriculum at schools. The application deadline is October 1, 1996.

The Institute's grants program is the largest private initiative in U.S. history to enhance the quality of science education. Since 1988, HHMI has granted nearly $548 million, primarily for science education from the earliest grades through postgraduate training. The HHMI grants program also supports the research of outstanding scientists in selected countries outside the United States.

For More Information

Jim Keeley
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