Project: American Museum of Natural History’s Seminars On Science Project

Authors: Mark St. John, Laura Stokes, Judy Hirabayashi

Type: Report

Publication: October 2002

The AMNH Seminars On Science Project: Lessons Learned From Phase I 1999-2002

Executive Summary (pdf, 9 pages)

Full Report and Appendices (pdf, 58 pages)


In 1999, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City launched an ambitious effort to create on-line science courses for K-12 educators that would immerse them in exciting science topics and give them access to the scientists and scientific expeditions of the AMNH. This project, called Seminars on Science, has completed a four-year phase of research and development in which 8 new science courses were created and taught on line. We at Inverness Research Associates have been studying the SOS project since it began, both to give formative feedback to the project and also to help portray the work and potential of the project to others.

In this paper our purpose is to capture the lessons learned from this R&D phase of the SOS project. We address these questions:

  • What is distinctive about the SOS course model? In what ways does this model have potential to address important problems in education?
  • In what ways have SOS courses enhanced teacher knowledge and classroom teaching? What is their potential to make further contributions to science teachers and science teaching?
  • What can we learn about the approach that the AMNH has taken in developing the SOS project? How might this approach serve as a model for others engaged in educational innovation?
  • We believe the lessons learned from this project are relevant and of potential value to people in a wide variety of education institutions, both formal and informal, who are interested in generating teacher knowledge and excitement about science in schools – and, ultimately, in enhancing the teaching and learning of science.

Intended Audience

American Museum of Natural History, Museums and Informal Science Education Institutions, Directors of Youth Programs, Science and Mathematics Educators, Funders, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research, Inc.

Distribution Policy

Inverness Research Inc. grants permission to print and distribute copies.