NYSCI is seeking deep engagements with local thinkers, creators, makers, educators, artists, technicians, architects, and engineers working in and around the design community for the second year of its Designers-in-Residence (DiR) Program.

We are looking for collaborators who want to engage with museum culture, explore our resources, and work with the NYSCI Explainers to infuse innovation and current design principles, thinking and insight into NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder. NYSCI is interested in individuals and groups who want to test ideas with the public, develop new work or new components of existing projects, and introduce different perspectives into the way we present information and engage with our multiple publics. During their residency, each DiR will participate in public programs and be paired with a small group of two or three Explainers.

Applications are due by September 30, 2019 at 11:59 pm.

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Who are the Explainers?

Explainers are the face of NYSCI; high school and college students participating in NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder program who work on the museum floor, while receiving mentoring, professional development and career preparation opportunities. They explain our exhibits, perform demonstrations, support educational workshops, and act as role models to students in NYSCI’s out-of-school camps and clubs. Easily recognized by their trademark red aprons, Explainers bring a love of learning and communicating science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to younger audiences. They have a deep understanding of our visitors (community and school groups, as well as young people and their families), including who they are and how they learn best. The Explainers are a highly diverse group of young people with a wide range of life experiences and cultural backgrounds.


Designer-in-Residence 2020 Program Specifics

Residents must be able to commit to working an average of 5 hours/week with their Explainer partners and comply with some basic expectations for participating within a youth development context. NYSCI has a budget for prototyping, producing workshops and events, and/or build-outs/installations for Designer-in-Residence projects (see specific amounts for each residency below). The timing of residencies will be determined based on preferences listed in the application, programming opportunities and available space at the museum.

  • Three-Month Residency (NYSCI will select two DiRs for this category): A three-month residency offers the opportunity to work out a new component of a larger project that could be prototyped and/or showcased at the end of the residency and includes: A $4,000 designer stipend; and $1,500 budget for materials, prototyping, workshops and build-outs/installations.
  • Six-Month Residency (NYSCI will select one DiR for this category): A six-month residency offers the opportunity for developing a new, large-scale project that will be prototyped on the museum floor at various points during the residency. $8,000 designer stipend; and $3,000 budget for materials, prototyping, workshops and build-outs/installations.

Projects do not have to be completed or have final outcomes for the showcase at the end of a residency. However, we are looking for public programming opportunities through each residency, which can take the form of: installations/exhibits, workshops/skill-shares, hands-on activities, prototyping and user testing for, and with, NYSCI visitors.


Being a Designer-in-Residence at NYSCI

Methods of engaging with Explainers and the museum:

Everyone’s projects vary. Below are two examples of what Designers-in-Residences’ projects can bring to NYSCI. We recognize, and are open to, any original ideas:

  • New hands-on activities and/or exhibits: For this track, prospective Designers-in-Residence must have an interest in co-developing a new project with Explainers that can take the form of installations/exhibits, workshops/skill-shares, hands-on activities or demos for NYSCI’s existing young audience.
  • Further development of an existing project: For this track, prospective Designers-in-Residence bring an existing project to engage the different or a younger audiences that NYSCI’s visitors represent. These residencies explore iterations of existist projects via feedback from Explainers and prototyping/user testing with NYSCI visitors, and sometimes result in new installations, events, performances, workshops, etc.

Working with Explainers:

Collaboration with Explainers is the cornerstone of this residency program. Each Designer-in-Residence will be paired with a group of two or three Explainers for the duration of their residency. Designers-in-Residence will be required to have set meetings with their Explainer partners. Due to the age of Explainers and nature of their involvement in the Science Career Ladder program, these meetings will need to be scheduled by the Designers-in-Residence, who will receive support from NYSCI staff as they build relationships with the Explainers.

We expect Designers-in-Residence to meet with Explainers on a weekly basis for five hours (this will be an average for longer residencies). These meetings can take the form of career talks, skill-shares/workshops (which we may open up to larger groups), project feedback sessions, building or installation sessions, or prototyping events on the museum floor. NYSCI visitors are the other, unofficial partner of the Designer-in-Residence, as this residency is an opportunity to build projects with and receive feedback from our diverse group of museum visitors.

Ideal Qualifications for Designers-in-Residence:

  • Must have experience and/or interest in youth development and working with younger people (high school and college-aged) to share ideas and build projects.
  • Support and continue the work of NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder to instill the following habits of mind in Explainers: diversity, personability, empathy, flexibility, curiosity, resourcefulness, ability to reflect, and empowerment to try new things.
  • A passion for investigating different forms of public engagement in a museum setting.
  • Are eager to experiment with different ways of considering design, exhibits, learning and information exchange.
  • Spanish speakers and fluency in other languages is a plus.

Selection of Designers-in-Residences will factor in diversity in terms of gender, age, race, culture and education/learning differences, as well as experience in the areas of design we are seeking a response to each year (see below for design areas of interest). We want to ensure that Explainers can see themselves in the Designers-in-Residence and that Designers-in-Residence are prepared to contribute to a community that values and supports young people.



The residency is a museum-wide collaboration and opportunity for exploring how NYSCI’s resources can be leveraged to expand our Explainers’ and audiences’ perspective of design in all its forms, hone or expand a project’s reach, or expand museum interactions. DiRs will have access to the following:

  • Spaces to work, to produce, to build: NYSCI will provide appropriate work and build spaces for projects, based on the interests/needs described in the application. This residency does not necessarily guarantee a dedicated studio space. We will work out what is needed for each project and find suitable accommodations.
  • Use of museum floor: for prototyping of different activities, engagements and installations (areas include but are not limited to: Design Lab, Connected Worlds, Rocket Park).
  • Partnership with Public Programs Department: to determine public programming options, based on the proposal provided in the application.
  • Access to NYSCI staff: for conversations and feedback about projects.
  • Access to Design Lab team: for help testing with visitors.
  • Access to NYSCI’s Maker Space and its team: for consultation and/or use of tools.
  • Access to NYSCI’s Exhibits team and shop for consultation and/or use of tools.


Design Areas of Interest

  • Emerging Technologies
  • Interactive
  • Sound
  • Sustainability/Environmentalism
  • Simulation
  • Machine/tools
  • Lighting
  • Food: nutrition and/or mechanisms/systems


Timeline and Important Dates

  • Applications open: May 13 – September 30, 2019
  • Applications due by: 11:59 pm, September 30, 2019
  • Notification of Acceptance to Round 1/Interview Cycle: October 21, 2019
  • DiR Interviews at NYSCI: November 5 – 8, 2019
  • Notification of Acceptance: November 15, 2019
  • Project planning meetings at NYSCI: December 2019 (TBD with DiRs and NYSCI staff)
  • DiR  2020 cycle: January – July 2020
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