BY YVETTE BROWN
The Science Museum of Long Island has been standing for over 50 years, providing different programs and activities for children to get involved in, according to the chief administrator, Cara O’Donnell.
“[The museum] started 54 years ago and it was started by a group of women who wanted a place where children could get supplemental science lessons, but preferably the type that are hands on, innovative [and] fun because they didn’t think the public schools, or private schools were doing that great of a job teaching science,” said O’Donnell. “So [the museum] started to offer after school programs and the schools began to come to the museum for field trips and then we added birthday parties and finally a summer camp.”
The summer camp focuses on one science topic a week and it runs for eight weeks from June 5 to Aug. 26.
“Because we’re on a 36-acre nature preserve, we have everything from a beachfront, we have a freshwater pond, we have a meadow, a forest, there are like five different ecosystems that kids can study just by being here, and then the main building is where we have the indoor part of the camp,” said O’Donnell. “Parents can register their children for a week, two weeks, four weeks, eight weeks, whatever they want and they can do it online at smli.org and if they have any problem doing it online, they can call me at (516) 627-9400 extension 11.”
The Science Museum of Long Island is a non-profit organization so they do have a fee, but O’Donnell said that they do their best to keep the costs low. She explained that not only do they get money that is donated from the community, but much of the community offers up some of their talent and time.
The most crowded that the museum gets is when schools come in.
“They do pay a fee and it’s very reasonable, it’s from $165 for a basic class, any class that needs special materials that we have to order might be more, but we will also take our programs to a school, because a school has to also provide transportation, sometimes that’s a consideration, so we’ll say to them, ‘you can’t afford to come to us, we’ll go to you’ and that works out very nicely too,” said O’Donnell. “We take our programs to schools, libraries, community centers, residential hospitals for children and we’ve even taken our animals to an Alzheimer’s unit in a senior citizens center, which they loved.”
O’Donnell added that there are also after school programs, which cater to kindergarten and up, but they also have a nursery program that meets once a week for an hour and a half and that’s for ages 3 and up. Every month they have a different topic that they study.
“Right now they’re doing a lot of life cycle of the butterfly and each child gets to take home a caterpillar and watch it turn into a butterfly. But before they get to take it home, they learn all about how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly and another week, they will do the life cycle of a plant and they’ll get to plant a seed, they learn how a seed sprouts and grows and what it needs to thrive. They end up taking home a little plant and taking care of it” said O’Donnell. “They also work with our live animals, we have reptiles, amphibians, mammals and they get to see them, touch them, learn how they live, learn what helps to protect them.”
O’Donnell added that the way the world is going, it’s important to teach children science in new and innovative ways.
“As the world is becoming a more technological place, it really means that we have to approach the teaching of science in a new and innovative way and that’s what we’ve been trying to do here for almost 50 years and now we’re becoming more relevant because we have more technology to offer to the children who come here,” said O’Donnell. “We prepare today’s children for a more scientific tomorrow.”
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext.128, email@example.com or @eveywrites.