In Texas’ new economic era—driven by globalization, demographic changes, environmental concerns and technology—there is a growing need for a more scientifically literate populace. Yet, many of Texas’ elementary and secondary teachers have little interest in science, little confidence in their ability to teach science, and little pedagogical and content preparation (Fuller 2004; NSTA 2002). Texas is experiencing low national rankings in science and decreasing numbers of educators qualified to teach science (Combs 2008). Campuses with the largest percentages of low-income students are likely to have the fewest highly qualified science teachers (Fuller 2006).
Developments in 21st Century science have only made the teachers’ job more difficult. The last decade has seen explosive growth and relevance of basic biological knowledge. The information age allows for exponential growth in our understanding of the diversity of life and its relevance to humankind. Together these tools are allowing us to explore and organize our knowledge of life on earth in ways not even dreamed of when many teachers were trained.
Before we began these programs Texas teachers had limited opportunities to interact one on one with scientists, science educators, and museum collections to get help understanding and teaching about the newest developments in the biological sciences. We provide extensive opportunities, on many different levels, for teachers throughout the state.
We train 350+ K-12 educators annually, who in turn, teach approximately 20,000 students per year. (assuming: 233 elementary teachers x 22 students = 5,126 students + 117 secondary teachers x 126 students = 14,742; 5,126+14,742 = 19,868). Participating teachers work with TNSC scientists and science educators to explore key concepts in the earth and life sciences using inquiry- and specimen-based lab activities. Our teacher training programs reach teachers from 160+ cities throughout Texas.
We conduct presentations at annual state-wide teacher conferences including the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching, Environmental Health Sciences Summer Institute, Texas Council of Elementary Science, and the Texas Library Association.
We partner with other science education organizations to further expand our K-16 teacher training programs throughout the state, including Austin Community College Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science Teaching, Central Texas Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science Teaching, Rio Grande Valley Science Association, and Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Our programs are recognized for excellence, and enhancement of science education, as evidence by the diversity of external funding sources, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Geographic, National Science Foundation, Tokyo Electron, and Winkler Family Foundation. Teachers receive continuing professional education (CPE) credit, as well as materials and experiences that can be directly integrated into their teaching. Learn more about our teacher training programs.
We conduct 130+ Museum Express presentations annually, reaching more than 4,000 schoolchildren from 17 Central Texas school districts. Museum Express takes our scientists into K–12 classrooms for interactive presentations and hands-on learning opportunities using specimens from our collections.
More than 2,000 students in Title I schools receive Museum Express at no charge, through funding by corporate sponsorships. Learn more about Museum Express.
More than 89,000 people visit our exhibit hall, the Texas Memorial Museum, annually, including 25,500+ K-12 students in school groups from more than 61 Texas cities. Our exhibits highlight dinosaurs and other fossils, gems and minerals, Texas wildlife, and evolution—all are based on our collections of more than 6 million natural specimens.
More than 4,000 K-16 students participate in guided tours, focusing on multiple themes from the science Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, each year. Learn more about our guided and self-guided tours.
The Museum hosts annual events drawing more than 9,000 visitors from across Texas. Events include Darwin Day, Explore UT, Family Fossil Fun Day, Fright at the Museum, Identification Day, and National Fossil Day, which provide opportunities for visitors to interact one on one with TNSC scientists and specimens from our collections. Learn more about our events.
We train staff and volunteers, conduct lectures, and host booths at special events for other science organizations, including: Austin Herpetological Society, Austin Nature and Science Center, Boy Scouts of America, Camp Fire USA, Girl Scouts of the USA, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, Llano Uplift Archeological Society, Paleontological Society of Austin, Texas Bioscience Institute, Texas Master Naturalists, Texas Parks and Wildlife, The University of Texas at Austin’s Environmental Science Institute, The University of Texas at Austin’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Williamson County Parks and Recreation, Wimberley Birding Society, and Zilker Botanical Garden.
Contact Christina Cid to learn how you can invite our scientists and science educators to talk with your group.
Educators attending our teacher training programs have come from Texas cities including: Alice, Alvarado, Alvin, Argyle, Arlington, Austin, Bastrop, Beaumont, Belton, Big Springs, Blanco, Bracketville, Brownsville, Bryan, Buda, Burnet, Carrizo Springs, Cedar Park, Channelview, China, China Spring, Cibolo, Clute, Coldspring, College Station, Conroe, Converse, Coppell, Corinth, Corpus Christi, Cost, Crystal City, Cushing, Dallas, Decatur, Deer Park, Del Valle, Denton, Desoto, Diana, Dodd City, Donna, Driftwood, Dripping Springs, El Paso, Elgin, Elton, Fabens, Fair Oaks, Flower Mound, Fort Worth, Garland, Gatesville, Georgetown, Giddings, Grand Saline, Grapevine, Harlingen, Hereford, Hewitt, Hilltop Lakes, Horizon, Houston, Humble, Huntington, Hutto, Ingram, Irving, Jarrell, Jasper, Jonestown, Junction, Katy, Kerens, Kilgore, Killeen, Kingsland, Kingsville, Kingwood, Kyle, La Joya, Lago Vista, Lakeway, LaMarque, Lamesa, Laneville, League City, Lewisville, Liberty, Lockhart, Los Fresnos, Lubbock, Lufkin, Mabank, Manchaca, Manor, Mansfield, Marble Falls, Marion, McAllen, McDade, McGregor, McKinney, Mercedes, Mesquite, Midland, Missouri City, Navasota, Needville, New Braunfels, Palacios, Pasadena, Pearland, Penelope, Peñitas, Pflugerville, Pharr, Pipe Creek, Plano, Pleasanton, Port Aransas, Port Arthur, Richardson, Robinson, Round Rock, Salado, San Angelo, San Antonio, San Juan, San Marcos, Shiner, Sinton, Slaton, Spring, Sugar Land, Sulphur Springs, Taylor, Temple, Terrell, Trinity, Vernon, Waco, Walburg, Weslaco, West Columbia, Wimberly, Wylie, Yoakum, and Yorktown.
Museum Express programs have been conducted in Texas school districts including: Austin, Bastrop, Cedar Park, Del Valle, Eanes, Elgin, Georgetown, Giddings, Hutto, Killeen, Leander, Liberty Hill, Manor, Marble Falls, Pflugerville, Round Rock and San Marcos.
School groups visiting the Museum have come from Texas cities including: Abilene, Arlington, Austin, Bastrop, Belton, Bertram, Buda, Cedar Creek, Cedar Park, Columbis, Copperas Cove, Crockett, Cross Plains, Dickinson, Del Valle, Dripping Springs, Eagle Pass, Edinburg, Elgin, Florence, Flower Mound, Fort Worth, Friendswood, Frisco, Galveston, Georgetown, Granbury, Houston, Hutto, Keller, Killeen, Kyle, Lago Vista, La Grange, Leander, Lexington, Liberty Hill, Lindale, Lockhart, Lubbock, Manchaca, Manor, McAllen, McDade, Midland, New Braunfels, Palacios, Pflugerville, Progreso, Richland Hill, Rio Grande City, Round Rock, San Antonio, San Marcos, Shiner, Spicewood, St. Elmo, Taylor, Thrall, and Weslaco.