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Science Career Ladder

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NYSCI’s Science Career Ladder engages high school and college students in meaningful work experience while exposing them to a wide array of STEM career and college pathways.

The SCL’s flagship offering, the Explainer program, employs Explainers to work on NYSCI’s museum floor. These young Explainers interact with the public and help visitors to understand the science behind NYSCI’s exhibits and demonstrations.

The Science Career Ladder is a program run through the Friedman Center for the Development of Young Scientists.

The SCL program serves youth that are often underrepresented in STEM fields, with approximately:

  • 60 percent of participants identifying as female
  • 85 percent of participants coming from minority backgrounds.

Furthermore, the demographics of youth participants in the Explainer program reflect the diversity of NYSCI’s home borough, Queens:

  • 80 percent of Explainers are from Queens, the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world
  • A typical class of Explainers speaks approximately 23 languages.
Professional Development and 21st Century Skills

Explainers in the SCL program advance through a system of job opportunities scaffolded by ongoing training, learning opportunities, and mentorship from museum professionals, program alumni and peers. In the process, they acquire communication skills and build confidence in engaging diverse audiences in STEM topics. They also acquire important 21st century skills necessary to succeed in college and the workplace, such as problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration.


I love being able to collaborate with the many different branches we have in NYSCI – it’s given me an appreciation for informal education, and how fun helps people learn.

Katarina, Alumni Explainer

Career Development and Exploration

Explainers and other local youth have access to career development workshops, designed to keep them up to date with the evolving workforce. Explainers have participated in internships with local STEM-centered organizations, such as Weill Cornell Medicine, New York University, Mount Sinai Health System, the New York Academy of Sciences and Geek Forest. They can also attend field trips to STEM facilities, ranging from research labs to technology, food and finance companies, demonstrating the diverse range of STEM careers and opportunities.


The Science Career Ladder has given us a chance to access so many opportunities for advancing our knowledge of STEM and STEM-adjacent careers. Some of the field trips offered have been to Salesforce, WNYC and Pfizer. One of my favorite experiences was visiting IBM. The tour was so exciting – it helped me to imagine myself in a position there, and to see it as a possible career option. I’ve also been professionally mentored through a Weill Cornell-NYSCI partnership, where I was part of a project-based learning experience. I'm so grateful for the amount of support I've received from the team here at NYSCI, they've been with me since day one.

Daisy, Alumni Explainer

STEM Career Exposure

NYSCI offers a series of free STEM Career Nights for students from across the city. At these events, students gain exposure to STEM fields, interact with STEM professionals, as well as learn about education and internship opportunities.


The Science Career Ladder provides a lot of career growth and networking opportunities. I've been able to participate in STEM career nights, and have been able to meet lots of other professionals, which has given me a strong foundation for my future career in tech.

Kristian, Alumni Explainer

College Success and Access

Explainers who are high school students can also attend workshops that focus on critical transitions to college and careers. Topics include choosing the appropriate education path for a desired career, resume writing, networking, and interview skills. Explainers also receive ongoing guidance from our vibrant alumni network, where Explainer alumni serve as leaders and role models.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

NYSCI empowers students to explore their STEM interests, through intensive workshops and camps that introduce them to the interplay of engineering, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Previous opportunities have included Designers in Residence, Formation of Engineers and the Explainer TV program.

Explainers also play a key role in supporting programming for younger students, acting as near-peer mentors in programs such as Girls in Tech, Make Academy, and Creative Computing Academy.


Throughout highschool, I progressed through so many NYSCI programs: Tinker Tech, Innovation Institute, Explainer TV, and then I became an Explainer. I learned engineering, design thinking and digital communication, and these achievements helped me get to where I am now, a Posse Scholar at Smith College, looking to pursue a career in science education. NYSCI's programs have had a huge impact on my life. As someone who's introverted, I was able to come out of my shell, and I’ve learned not to doubt my own capabilities.

Alicia, Alumni Explainer

Watch Our Videos

Previously, the Friedman Center hosted a youth development program and accompanying YouTube channel – called Explainer TV – which showcased science, NYSCI and our Explainers.

In our current program, Explainers learn how to create their own short science videos about museum demonstrations and exhibits – gaining experience in storytelling, scriptwriting, interviewing and filming.

As digital content creators, Explainers build on their role as ambassadors for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) – embodying NYSCI’s Design-Make-Play learning approach.

Check out some of our latest Explainer TV videos here.