On October 31, Mayor Bill de Blasio and several local government officials congregated at New York Hall of Science to announce a new STEAM-focused UPK center to be built on our campus, in partnership with the museum. Designed to serve 306 four-year-olds who live in our neighboring community of Corona, Queens, the UPK center will ensure that students and families will have direct access to NYSCI resources. This includes specialized professional learning and coaching for teachers, and continuous opportunities for family and community engagement.

“This is by no means a privileged community. It’s a community where parents feel deeply that they want the best for their kids, but they don’t have the advantages that other communities have, economically. This is going to be one of the very best programs in our nation. And it’s not happening on Park Avenue — it’s happening here in Corona.” – Mayor Bill de Blasio, October 31, 2019

Establishing a school on our campus is motivated by our broader commitment to serving residents of Corona – an incredibly vibrant and diverse community where two-thirds of residents are born outside the United States, most commonly in Central and South America. Three years ago we launched the NYSCI Neighbors program to create educational opportunities for the children, families, and educators who live or work in the neighborhood. The UPK Center is intended to serve as an initial touch point with the museum for local families, inviting them into a trajectory of STEM learning opportunities that span Pre-K through college.

How a child learns is shaped by the environments and relationships in which they grow. The early childhood years are a critical opportunity for children to gain the physical, sensory and interpersonal experiences that will motivate and guide their learning later in development. Access to materials-rich environments, engaged adults, and extended opportunities for play and exploration are crucial to cultivating children’s early capacities for rich scientific thinking – resources that NYSCI can help cultivate.

Both the UPK Center and our NYSCI Neighbors body of work will serve as a national model for other organizations looking to engage diverse communities across the country in STEM learning opportunities. This is critically important, as STEM education and competencies are increasingly required for participation in the global workforce. We are leading the way in ensuring that everyone has access to rich opportunities to explore STEM, build their own interests in these disciplines, and feel invited to pursue educational pathways and careers in these fields.

We are grateful to the commitment and foresight of the public officials who have been leaders in making this vision come to life. Most of all, we are thrilled that this center will enable us to deepen our relationship with, and have a long-lasting impact on, a community we love.

Read the official press release on the NYC.gov website.

Rendering of UPK Center on our campus