STEM Education at the Maritime Explorium

Maritime Explorium

At a time when schools are becoming increasingly prescribed and test driven, children need places in which their imaginative intelligence can sail. I will use this forum to report on the successes and challenges we encounter at the  Maritime Explorium. the ME, a unique family learning center in Port Jefferson, New York.

Learning is a naturally joyous activity, and at ME, visitors feel that joy through exhibits and programs based on today’s most compelling research on best practices in education,  Since 2003, we’ve collaborated with internationally known educators, curious toddlers to teens, and eager scientists  who turn dreams into realities and learning into smiles.

What happens when children DON’T get a chance to experience real learning, particularly in science and math? Sadly, we know the answer.  Most children, especially girls, are turned off to science and math by middle school, never take more than a few required courses, and rarely look with wide awake eyes to the beauty and intrigue around us all.

This is a challenge the Maritime Explorium meets. The National Research Council reports evidence that settings such as ours stimulate the inquisitive mind, foster academic learning and expand children’s perceptions of career options. These are reasons why ME is so important right now — it’s all about imaginative thinking.

We are all natural scientists, mathematicians, engineers, writers, dancers, musicians, and artists – until someone tells us we’re not.  Children are constantly wondering, experimenting, building and creating – until someone tells them to stop. At ME, we say, “You can, and let’s start now.” We help children build on what they already know; we stretch them to think; and we bring back real learning into their lives.

The children playing at ME are tomorrow’s adults who need to solve the complex problems on our planet. ME  gives them a place now to develop their critical and creative thinking skill. ME does this through its constructivist pedagogy. Stay tuned.


About jgbrooks

Professor of science education at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and president of the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson, New York
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6 Responses to STEM Education at the Maritime Explorium

  1. How about some steAm! Let’s get the constructivist art methods on the radar! Let me know if you’re doing this in your art room. I’m writing a thesis and creating a film on the subject.

  2. Aliwake says:

    Would love to take my grand children to the ME. It sounds wonderful.

  3. clydegaw says:

    The Maritime Explorium looks like the place I wish I had spent more time at when I was a young child. Thanks so much Dr. Brooks for your work on constructivist approaches to learning. Your influence has had profound impact across the world.
    Warmest wishes!
    Clyde Gaw

  4. Michael Garrett says:

    “Learning is a naturally joyous activity” I agree with this wholeheartedly, though I think there are differing kinds of “learning” some of which are fluid and in the moment and some are more like work. The differences seem clear when you see them, but not easy to describe or relate.

    To “teach” specific science content, somehow a teacher has to interweave the two in a fairly seamless and natural way. I’m working on thinking this one through…

  5. meredithkurz says:

    Education separates math and science and literature and play as colonists once separated countries with careless war-conducive borders. When you are young there’s no difference between play and physics, between reading and imagination, between turning a crab over to see its feet and writing a story about the experience. They all create synaptic dances. The concept and design of the Maritime Explorium allows the brain to breathe. Then, learning begins.

  6. jgbrooks says:

    The breathing brain. I just finished a Mindfulness course in which we furthered our explorations of the breath and its role in learning and … well, just about everything. Yes, what we might think of as “merely” one breath choreographs a brand new and unique synaptic dance. BTW, the Maritime Explorium is hosting a horseshoe crab walk tonight at 9:15 PM. Let the dances begin.

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