Director of SciPlay
Harouna Ba, Ph.D. joined NYSCI in November of 2013 as the Director of SciPlay. Dr. Ba has extensive experience in investigating children’s development of digital literacy skills and the impact of complex science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs in formal as well as informal educational settings. Prior to joining NYSCI, he led several research and evaluation projects about technology and STEM at the EDC’s Center for Children and Technology for 19 years. Through this research work, he has sought to help inform the processes that formal as well as informal institutions use to provide quality and effective learning opportunities to underserved children and adults. Dr. Ba designed, conducted, and managed rigorous quantitative and qualitative research projects focused on the implementation of technology infrastructure and support in K-12 systems statewide and the use of technologies to enhance teaching practices and promote student learning across formal and informal settings. Dr. Ba has an interdisciplinary educational background in the social sciences and humanities with a special focus on children’s exploration of places and learning across multiple settings. He holds a Ph.D. in environmental psychology from the City University of New York Graduate Center, a Master of Philosophy in psychology from the Graduate School and University Center, a Master of Arts in psychology from Hunter College, and a Master of Philosophy in sociology from the University of Dakar.
Dr. Brunner has been involved in the research, production, and teaching of educational technology in a variety of subject areas for fifty years. In addition to conducting research projects about the relationship between learning, teaching, and technology, she has designed and implemented educational materials incorporating technologies to support inquiry-based learning and teaching in science, social studies, media literacy, and the arts. She has worked extensively with staff and students in a variety of school environments on curriculum development projects, teacher support and training, and informal education. She taught experimental courses at Bank Street College and the Media Workshop New York, in which teachers were introduced to new technologies, learned how to integrate technology into their curriculum, and how to use multimedia authoring tools to design their own educational programs. She has also been an industry consultant for the design of educational and entertainment products for children during the last four decades. Her areas of expertise range widely, from gender and technology to media literacy education, from designing digital games to developing new evaluation methodologies.
As a Research Fellow, Dr. Diones currently handles the assessment for GeniGames. Dr. Diones received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from CUNY Graduate Center, specializing in Quantitative Methods, Research Design, and Psychometrics. She worked from the Provost’s Office at Mercy College, where she was the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Coordinator. Dr. Diones also taught in Mercy College’s School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Previously, she worked in the central office of Yonkers Public Schools, focusing on assessment and research.
Alyssa is the Explainer Resident working on the SciGames project at NYSCI. She has over 6 years of experience of informal science education, working as an Explainer on the museum floor, as well as taking part in numerous programs and workshops at NYSCI. With her skills and experience from being an Explainer, Alyssa currently works with the SciPlay team to develop innovative technology to enrich and revolutionize science learning through play. Alyssa is a science enthusiast, someone who knows “a little bit about a lot of different things”, as a result of being fully submersed into the culture of NYSCI.
Project Manager & Curriculum Designer
Laura is the Project Manager & Curriculum Designer for the SciGames project at the New York Hall of Science. She received her B.A. in Physics from Florida International University. As a fellow in the Physics Education Research group at FIU, Laura contributed to research that investigated Modeling instruction, creating, sustaining, and leveraging reformed learning environments, and engaging educators in teaching for understanding. Subsequently, Laura enrolled in a Health Physics master’s degree program at Texas A&M University. Laura has since returned to science education, working as a science teacher and with NYC’s Urban Advantage before joining SciPlay at NYSCI.
Talya received a B.A. in Chemistry from Skidmore College, where she conducted secondary studies in dance. Her passion for playing and experimenting, which she has indulged in dance studios and laboratories, are nurtured at NYSCI, where she is working as a Research Assistant on the SciPlay team to develop tools that leverage play to teach science. Talya’s previous research includes work at Skidmore on the synthesis of photoswitching ruthenium based complexes and at UC Davis on the potential of iron-based clusters to electrocatalytically reduce carbon dioxide. Additionally, Talya has experience in and a passion for informal science education.
Project Manager & Research Assistant, 2011-2014
Caitlin is the Project Manager, Research Assistant and Curriculum Developer for the GeniGames project. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Neuroscience from Gettysburg College, a Master of Science degree in Primate Conservation from Oxford Brookes University and a Master of Science degree in Teaching Adolescence Biology/Conservation Life Science from Fordham University. Prior to joining SciPlay, Caitlin conducted research on the vocalizations of purple-faced leaf monkeys endemic to Sri Lanka, worked in a variety of primate sanctuaries around the world, and designed STEM curriculum at Liberty Science Center.
SciPlay Resident, 2007-2014
Devi is the Research Resident working on the GeniGames project at NYSCI. She has worked at NYSCI for 6 years, moving up the Science Career Ladder from Explainer Volunteer to Research Resident. Outside of NYSCI, Devi has served as a research intern on an assortment of projects varying from horseshoe crab behavior studies at the Audubon Society to researching the expressive development of toddlers at NYU’s Child and Family Policy Center. Devi attended Fordham University and currently holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science. This fall she will be studying evolution and conservation biology as part of University College of London’s Biodiversity, Evolution, and Conservation Masters of Research program.
Research Fellow, 2012-2014
Victoria Winters has a B.S. in physics and applied mathematics, and a M.S. in physics from the University of California at Riverside. Before pursuing STEM education research, Victoria helped develop data analysis software for neutron scattering experiments and taught college level mathematics and physics. Victoria has participated in NSF-funded projects to research elementary teachers’ and students’ learning progressions in scientific inquiry and to develop inquiry-based physical science curriculum for pre-service teachers. While at the Museum of Mathematics, Victoria helped redesign interactive math exhibits and deploy them at science festivals around the United States.
Summer Intern, 2014
Claire started her second year at New York University in the Digital Media Design for Learning master’s program in fall 2014. Claire worked both independently and closely with the Curriculum Designer at SciPlay to create and document various aspects of the curriculum across projects at the department. She created a system to organize the current playground lessons, became familiar with local and national standards, created and improved lesson plans, and contributed to the curriculum planning for the physics digital app and the planning of the SciPlay Summer Teacher Institute.
Summer Intern, 2014
Caitlin is an incoming sophomore undergraduate for fall 2014 at Binghamton University, State University of New York. She is currently a neuroscience major with interests in biology and psychology. Caitlin’s role was essential in the literature review of play and STEM learning, our evaluation studies, and development of a training program for the Explainer Leadership Team. She assisted in the creation of instruments for evaluation as well as the data entry of evaluation observations. Finally, Caitlin did extensive research in the fields of Socratic questioning, responsive teaching, and clinical interviewing which informed her work creating materials that would be part of a training package to be delivered to the Explainer Department.