Sciplay Staff

Harouna Ba, PhD

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.



Cornelia Brunner, PhD

Senior Advisor

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.

Alyssa DecemberAlyssa December

SciPlay Resident

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.


Amanda Jaksha

Project Manager & Curriculum Designer

Amanda is the Project Manager & Curriculum Designer for the SciGames project at the New York Hall of Science. She is a recent transplant to New York from Arizona, where she completed her doctoral degree in Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Arizona. Amanda has a background in ecology and evolutionary biology and studied sea turtle biology for many years, including doing field work to investigate the nesting, feeding and migration habits of sea turtles in Baja California, Mexico and Florida. Amanda started her teaching career as an informal educator and worked for many different aquariums and science centers, including Sea World. She went on to teach secondary science for three years before pursuing her Ph.D. Amanda’s research interests include the interaction of formal and informal science learning environments and ocean/environmental identity.


Talya WolfTalya Wolf 

Research Assistant

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.