Research Associate

Background: Since its founding at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) has inspired millions of people—children, teachers, and families– by offering creative, participatory ways to learn and encouraging people to explore their curiosity and nurture their creativity. Located in Queens, the most ethnically diverse county in the country, NYSCI welcomes 500,000 visitors each year and serves thousands more through outreach in schools, teacher professional development and participation in a variety of public events and research initiatives.

NYSCI is a leader in the science museum field, recognized for its highly regarded exhibitions, programs, and products, all of which are informed by strategies of engagement called Design-Make-Play. The defining characteristics of Design-Make-Play — open-ended exploration, imaginative learning, personal relevance, deep engagement and delight — are the ingredients that inspire passionate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learners. NYSCI engages diverse communities of learners, particularly young people, in STEM, by fostering the excitement of self-directed exploration and by tapping into the joy of learning intrinsic in young people’s play. Our transformative model for STEM exploration invites broad participation and makes engagement and learning irresistible.

NYSCI has approximately 120 full-time and over 180 part-time staff members. Departmental Role:

The Research, Exhibits, and Programs department includes almost 50 researchers, informal STEM educators, exhibit designers, and program and curriculum developers. We embrace and benefit from the professional and personal diversity of our team’s expertise, perspectives, and experiences. The group works in a variety of configurations to develop and implement creative, participatory learning experiences that awaken the curiosity of children, families, and teachers. The department team aspires to be a learning community, and to contribute to NYSCI as a learning community, through openness, curiosity, and an entrepreneurial spirit. We strive to create an informed environment through internal communications and participation in external networks of partners and collaborators. NYSCI’s Research, Exhibits and Programs department is seeking a recent Ph.D. or similarly qualified museum educator to lead applied research initiatives in two domains: Making and early childhood STEM learning. The ideal candidate will have both theoretical and methodological expertise relevant to both of these domains, although they may be combined or balanced in a range of ways.

The Research Associate will have both immediate and longer-term responsibilities. The associate will join two established, NSF-funded research and development efforts. One focuses on developing and studying the impact of a family workshop series focused on exploring mathematical concepts with children ages 5-8. The other is an ethnographic study of parental engagement in family Making activities. In the longer term, the research associate will work closely with both research colleagues and museum practitioners to develop new lines of research in both the early childhood and Making domains, with a particular focus on studies of young children and their families as Makers and engineers. The associate will have significant opportunities to explore and establish new ways of conceptualizing and measuring the impact of these experiences on children and on their families.

Function: Research activities required for the position are likely to include formative testing of new approaches and resources; design research examining the implementation of new programs or exhibits; ethnographic study of visitor engagement over time; and impact studies using a range of methods. Across all of his/her project work, the research associate will establish routines for documentation of formative research; identify and develop relevant instrumentation for capturing evidence of emergent STEM learning in informal settings; engage the project team in the interpretation and write up of emerging findings; build connections to current research on early childhood development, Making and engineering, and STEM learning; contribute to the development of grant proposals; develop conference presentations; and write for both for the research community and broader audiences.

Principal Responsibilities:

• Contribute to both research and program development efforts focused on science, math and engineering learning for young children and their families, particularly learning through Making or engineering design.

• Lead the development of a new line of research focused on Making and engineering design, with a particular focus on the potential impact of these activities on families and culturally diverse communities.

• Translate research findings for informal educators and curriculum and exhibit developers, and participate in discussion of the implications of research findings for design decisions.

• Plan and lead dissemination efforts, including conference presentations and preparation of journal articles for a range of audiences.

• Train and provide guidance or administrative direction to research staff.


o Ability and willingness to participate in events outside the workday schedule

o Must be available to work evenings and weekends on occasion

• Supervisory responsibilities: None immediately but supervision of research assistants is within the scope of the position

• Complete other tasks as assigned.




Education: Ideal candidates will have or will soon complete a Ph.D. in early childhood education, developmental psychology, the learning sciences, museum studies, or a related field.

Candidates who have conversational fluency in one or more languages other than English are particularly encouraged to apply.

Knowledge & Experience:

  • Commitment to the philosophy and mission of the New York Hall of Science.

• Up to date knowledge of the research literature in childhood development, particularly mathematics, engineering, and science learning, and in Making or engineering design.

• Experience working collaboratively with museum educators, exhibit designers, or other informal STEM education practitioners.

• Experience designing and conducting all phases of education research using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods. • Ability to organize, maintain and clean datasets derived from surveys or observational data.

• Ability to conceptualize and develop research designs and methodologies, and demonstrate expertise in organizing the logistics of field tests. • Experience supervising other researchers.

• Strong communications skills with the ability to express ideas clearly both in written and oral communications.

Compensation: Commensurate with education, skills and experience, including an excellent NYSCI benefits package.


Application deadline: June 9, 2017; Targeted start date: July 17, 2017

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The New York Hall of Science supports diversity in the workplace. NYSCI is an equal opportunity / affirmative action employer (EOE) and supports a drug free workplace.