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March 4, 2016

The Virginia Museum of Natural History has been awarded an $8,000 Creativity Garden mini grant from the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) to provide STEM educational programming to children ages 6-14.  The grant will allow the museum to continue offering unique, immersive programming to local students.

"Creativity and critical thinking are essential skills for everyone," said Dr. Denny Casey, director of education and public programs at the Virginia Museum of Natural History.  "The museum's educational offerings focus heavily on STEM-related programming to help foster this creativity and critical thinking, as well as help better prepare students for careers in fields that will be in demand in the future.  This Creativity Garden grant will play a significant role in allowing us to offer this programming to our area’s students and we are extremely grateful to ASTC for identifying the Virginia Museum of Natural History as a worthy recipient."

Specifically, the grant will allow the museum to provide its newly designed suite of out-of-school programs entitled “Get Your Game On!”.  The programs focus on exploring game design and creation, while challenging students to work in collaborative teams.  Students will brainstorm, design, test, improve, and play games that will teach their classmates about a STEM topic of their choice.

The museum will provide six after-school programs delivered to five different sites, followed by two culminating events at the museum during the spring.  In total, the museum will deliver 48 after-school sessions and 2 summer camps under the “Get Your Game On!” umbrella.  The programs are offered in partnership with MHC After 3, YMCA, and the Boys and Girls Club.

“The educational value of gaming in today’s world is immeasurable,” said Casey.  “With the advent of technology in the classroom, students and educators are commonly turning towards new ways for students to get engaged. Games are a familiar and favorite choice for education due to the wide variety that can be offered, including board games, role-playing games, card games, dice games, cooperative games, technological games, and strategy games; the options are limitless! Due to gaming’s ability to actively engage and form positive memories of learning, VMNH is focusing on developing a program that will have students delve into the world of game design. Focusing on how important games are in creating hands-on learning opportunities, students will be challenged to collectively, in teams, formulate, design, and execute a game that teaches their classmates about a STEM topic of their choosing. Emphasis will be placed on creativity and the ability to collaborate with others, fostering an environment that is fun and educational.”

To inquire about the museum's educational offerings, including scheduling programming or a museum visit, or contact the museum at discover@vmnh.virginia.gov or 276-634-4185.

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