The Montshire Museum of Science is a non-profit hands-on science museum located in Norwich, Vermont. Founded in 1976 by our Upper Valley community, the Museum’s mission is to awaken and encourage a lifelong interest in science through exhibits and programming dedicated to hands-on discovery and education for people of all ages. Unique to the mission is the Montshire’s 110-acre New England riverfront setting, which fosters deep and creative learning in both the physical and natural sciences. The Museum serves approximately 150,000 visitors a year in the museum, of which 16,000 school children attend. Approximately 20,000 museum visitors come through free social service visits or through the Museum’s Warm Welcome program that provides reduced admission or membership to the institution. Through the Montshire’s robust outreach programs and school partnership program (Montshire STEM Alliance), the Museum connects with almost 5,300 students in classrooms and learning centers across Vermont and New Hampshire.
The Museum’s educational programming offers a wide range of STEM topics from natural history to engineering. The Museum has garnered national attention for its initiatives in Making and Tinkering (a part of the engineering ecosystem) as well as teacher leadership. The Montshire’s STEM Alliance provides 12 small rural schools in Vermont and New Hampshire with curriculum support and teacher professional development, and the museum hosts a teacher leadership program that helps teachers develop school-wide plans for engaging the entire school in STEM experiences. The Museum also coordinates various museum partnerships in climate change education and learning sciences.
In 2016, to celebrate the Montshire’s 40th anniversary, the Museum engaged in the 40-schools project, which deployed tinkering kits to 40 classrooms across Vermont and New Hampshire. The Montshire developed distance learning strategies for classroom and teacher support and has been beaming into classrooms for teacher professional development. Since the closure of the Museum in March, the Montshire’s education, exhibits, and marketing teams have been reassigned to develop learning modules for families (targeted to children ages 8 and younger). These media packages are delivered daily in manageable doses. Once the week is completed, the Montshire team turns them into learning plans for teachers to utilize at their own pace.