2014 Highlights: Learning Center


179,916 field trip participants

113,880 Learning Collection users

85,597 PlayLab visitors

36,651 activity cart participants

21,406 Meet a Scientist interactions

7,571 Dozin’ with the Dinos guests


Real objects, real science, real learning

The Museum’s education efforts continue to focus on increasing the quality and impact of learning experiences, both in the Museum and beyond its walls. We involved thousands of young learners in exciting and interactive science-based activities throughout the year.

In March we launched BIOlympics, a multiplayer online game designed for tweens. BIOlympics allows users to explore Field Museum science at home by investigating concepts related to biomechanics in virtual training and Olympic-style running, swimming, and biting events with their team of animals. The on-line toolkit based on our Biomechanics exhibit brought interactive experiences to nearly 3,500 students.

We also expanded Badge Day launching a Girl Scout badge day for Junior Scouts to earn their Flower Merit Badge while working with women scientists at the Field. Scouts trekked across the Museum on scavenger hunts, exploring natural sciences through hands-on activities, and visiting labs and collections behind the scenes. In total, more than 1,300 scouts and chaperones participated in Badge Day events.

Fifty-four teen Volunteers from across Chicagoland served as Museum ambassadors throughout the summer, engaging visitors in hands-on activities with real objects and specimens, and recording 2,500 service hours.

The Digital Learning Team hosted three summer workshops for high school teens and middle school tweens, part of the Chicago City of Learning initiative. Field Museum teens earned 145 “digital badges” for the skills and knowledge gained through their participation in the workshops.


New pathways and new partners

The Learning Center’s efforts in 2014 provided new pathways to our science and deepened audience engagement, from visitors examining real specimens and talking with Field Museum scientists to broadcasting our science live in school classrooms from coast to coast. We are finding new ways to share our content and partnering with new organizations to further our reach.

During the 2014–15 school year the Learning Center, together with the Big Shoulders Fund, Northwestern University, and The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, launched the Early Elementary Science Partnership (E2SP). This four-year program will transform science teaching and learning in pre-K through third grade classrooms at 10 Big Shoulders Fund partner schools, improving elementary students’ understanding of science.

Inspired by the success of our Meet a Scientist program, which brings Museum collections and scientists into the public halls, we created Discovery Squad, adding more activities and events, and more staff and volunteers from across the Museum. We also extended science into the classroom with Virtual Visits, an interactive video broadcast. We developed three new modules that explore insects and biodiversity, botany and taxonomy, and ecosystems in the deep sea. Virtual Visits went nationwide in 2014 with participation from schools on both coasts.

Continuing its commitment to engaging audiences in real science with real objects, and aligning with a new framework that focuses on fostering the ability to think and explore like a scientist, the Learning Center formally joined Science & Education to increase opportunities for connecting our audiences with our stunning collections, original research, and science.