U.S. Science Museums Spark Interest in Chemistry with Help From The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation

Oct 19, 2010, 10:34 ET from The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation

NEW YORK, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- With recent world rankings placing the United States a dismal 21st in science education, America's science museums could become a priceless resource to the nation's youth.

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There are more than 150 science museums in the U.S. but bringing new exhibits to the public are costly.  The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences for more than 60 years, is helping fund chemistry-based exhibits by providing grants to the nation's science museums.

"Historically, chemistry has not been well represented in science museums," says Mark Cardillo, executive director of the New York City-based organization. "The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation's Special Grant Program supports exhibits that have broad appeal and encourage viewers to look at chemistry in a new way."

Donating more than $1 million to museums over the last five years, the foundation aims to convey chemistry's role in critical matters such as the environment, health care, alternative energy and food production.  "Science museums can each have annual attendance of more than one million," Cardillo says.  "They can expose the public to contemporary issues in the chemical sciences, and highlight the dramatic societal concerns that chemists work to solve.  We want to spread the excitement of scientific discovery and inspire people to want to learn more."  

The underwritten exhibits are aimed at connecting chemistry to everyday life.  The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago received a grant from the Foundation to help develop "Create a Chemical Reaction," an active exploration of the Periodic Table of Elements.  The exhibit is currently open to the public.  "Can Chemistry Help Fuel Our Future?" was partially funded by the Foundation and is now on display at the Museum of Science in Boston.  This multimedia exhibit explains the importance of chemistry in the development of alternative energy sources.

Other current exhibits underwritten in part by the Foundation include: "Chemistry and the Search for Life Beyond Earth -- A Hands-On Discovery Lab," at the New York Hall of Science in New York City; "Traits of Life," at the Exploratorium in San Francisco; "Chemagine," at the Sciencenter in Ithaca, NY; and "Water, Light and Chemistry: Wet and Dry Stuff," at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City, UT, opening in Spring 2011.

To learn more about the Dreyfus Foundation, visit www.dreyfus.org.

SOURCE The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation