In the 2006 movie ‘Night at the Museum,’ the famed American Museum of Natural History literally came to life after dark, and this fall, the storied New York City museum, together with Samsung, gave a group of 60 lucky students affiliated with Children’s Aid NYC an up close and personal experience with science in a fun-packed sleepover visit. It’s all part of Samsung’s initiative that aims to connect its nonprofit partners and give children, ages 6 to 13, from underserved communities unique educational experiences they otherwise may not have access to that increase their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Science exploration and excitement were at the top of the agenda November 10, when the kids and their 20 chaperones ventured into the legendary Upper West Side museum, where a colossal Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton greets guests in the Rotunda, and where the students had the privilege of sleeping under the watchful gaze of the 94-foot-long blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
“The kids can all wander around and find their own special area of interest,” said Bradley Harris, senior director of visitor services for the museum. “From space exploration to the Hall of Ocean Life and our biodiversity halls, we have something for everyone.”
For many of the Children’s Aid kids this was their first visit to a museum, let alone one as large as the American Museum of Natural History which spans four city blocks and has 45 permanent halls to explore.
By sponsoring the group for the museum’s sleepover event, Samsung’s goal was two-fold: To remove any hurdles that would prevent the kids’ ability to experience everything the museum has to offer and give them the opportunity to have an experience of a lifetime, while also linking two of Samsung’s long-standing, non-profit partners. To Samsung, the connection between Children’s Aid and the museum was an obvious one given how both organizations are working to have a lasting impact on children’s education.
An Evening Adventure with Science
“It’s really exciting,” said 13-yr-old Kaylanie F. as she prepared to embark on the evening. “It’s that one moment in life where [you realize] you might not experience it again, so you just live it to the fullest.”
After picking up their sleeping bags and claiming their cots, the kids were free to explore the museum exhibits on their own. For some, the butterfly conservatory was the first mesmerizing stop.
“I was so happy and impressed because I’ve never been in a museum. I like the butterflies because when I put my hand [out], they come to me and I [caught]like one thousand butterflies,” exclaimed Alexa O.
Other students got up close and personal with some furry and not-so-furry friends at a live animal presentation in the museum’s intimate Linder Theater.
Before a bedtime story, part of the group embarked on a space journey at the Dark Universe Space Show in the Hayden Planetarium, which highlights the pivotal discoveries that have helped us understand our universe.
“What I like about it most is that I’m really in love with science, and this is a big science place. I love studying about astronomy especially,” said Rachell P.
While Samsung has partnered with the museum before to expose student groups to science education through field trips, it was the first time the company gave a group of students the opportunity to partake in the museum’s popular sleepover night, which is also open to the public several times a year.
“We know that this group, especially, is going to find something that will draw them to science and motivate them to learn more about it,” said Harris, adding he hopes the experience will also prompt many to plan a return visit.