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2. Explora

Press Contact: Paul Tatter, 505-224-8389

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Sara Keeney, Community Member; Dr. Patrick Lopez, Director; and Mrs. Obama.
Pictured: Sara Keeney, Community Member; Dr. Patrick Lopez, Director; and Mrs. Obama. Click image to access high-resolution version.

Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum offers the Albuquerque community more than 550 inquiry-based programs and exhibits that encourage critical thinking and foster lifelong science learning. The museum’s focus is to cultivate thinking, not transfer information.

To promote scientific understanding and application, Explora has developed many bilingual programs to engage its local school-age population, which is 51 percent Hispanic, 38 percent Anglo, five percent Native American, and four percent African American.

For preschoolers and their caregivers, Explora offers the biweekly Growing a Scientist program for children and parents to learn basic science principles through playful experiences. Teens on free or reduced-price school lunch can participate in the Youth Intern Program, where they learn to facilitate scientific programs for children at Explora’s summer camps. During the school year, the teens bring Explora exhibits into their communities to make science come alive for their families and neighbors.

Through its Classroom Explorations initiative, Explora has developed more than 200 science programs that travel to every county in New Mexico, serving 86 of the state’s 89 school districts.

Explora is a new kind of learning place, fostering experiences that are real and tangible. And with hundreds of transactive exhibits and programs for the young and old alike, Explora is positioned to rejuvenate the spirit and enthusiasm for learning for generations to come.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (NM) "Each of us visits museums to gain knowledge, share new experiences, and learn more about the world we live in – and the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum fills that role and more in Albuquerque. Explora’s open-door policy serves the entire community by making the exhibits of this special museum accessible for all Albuquerque families, regardless of ability to pay. For the special role it plays in our community and in the lives of all who visit, Explora is highly deserving of this national honor. I congratulate the museum on this remarkable award."

U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (NM) "Congratulations to the Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum for receiving the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The long-term economic health of our nation depends on our ability to provide 21st-century learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math to all students. To that end, Explora plays a vital role in our community. Through its extensive year-round educational programming, in addition to its permanent exhibits, Explora instills a sense of wonder, excitement, and opportunity in every student who comes through the door. It also provides critical professional development to teachers. I appreciate the outstanding work of the many museum professionals and educators who have built Explora into a nationally-recognized center of educational excellence, and I wish them all the best in the years to come."

U.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-01) "As the father of two young boys, I know how important experiential learning is to get kids interested in science and technology. Explora engages people of all ages in learning about the world around them. I commend Explora for their exemplary service to central New Mexico, and I congratulate them on receiving the National Medal for Museum Service."

Congressman Heinrich nominated Explora for this award.

Community Member Sara Keeney
Principal finds new passion and possibilities for education

By partnering with Explora, Sara Keeney has discovered new passion and possibilities for education. As principal for the past 10 years of Los Padillas Elementary School – located in a semi-rural area where families struggle – Sara has found fresh approaches for engaging teachers, students, and their parents by working through inquiry-based programs at Explora.

Teachers comment that Explora’s unique professional development opportunities have changed their classroom methods and activities. Families rave about Explora Family Science Night, the school’s best-attended family event. Watching families interact in thought-provoking experiments is deeply meaningful to Sara, who knows these activities will ripple throughout the child’s life in family conversations, learning potential and career choices.

Most of Sara’s work has been in minority and high poverty schools like Los Padillas where 60 percent of the students are English language learners, and the school qualifies for 100 percent free lunches. According to Sara, "Our families are engaged in survival, but Explora helped us reach out to them in ways we hadn’t thought of."