Enjoy an Adventures in Aviation program at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum as part of the STEM Matters program. Photo courtesy of the Museum
Enjoy an Adventures in Aviation program at The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum as part of the STEM Matters program. Photo courtesy of the Museum

STEM Matters Opens Registration For 1-Day Spring Break Programs

New York City's uber-popular STEM Matters Program returns for spring break 2021, but big changes are in store. Unlike the week-long drop-off program of years past, if you want your child to participate this spring, you'll have to join them. The programs, dubbed Discovery Days, run for single-day sessions at top cultural institutions. Participants are treated to an hour-long, educator-led, hands-on discovery program and enjoy gratis admission for the rest of the day.

The programs, which are open to public, charter, and home school students, run for single-day sessions during the New York City public school spring break, which lasts from Monday, March 29-Friday, April 2, 2021. Read on for more info on the program and how to apply.

Applications are available online now and close on Wednesday, February 10. All Discovery Day assignments are made via a lottery system, and you may apply for multiple sites and dates. Applications do include brief essay questions for both parents and students. Thousands of applications are expected, and attendance will be limited to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Brown Bear at Central Park Zoo STEM Matters
Enjoy Wild Science at the Central Park Zoo, where you'll be treated like a WCS scientist. Photo by Julie Larsen Maher for WCS

So, what exactly are you applying for? These special Discovery Day sessions occur at different cultural locations throughout the five boroughs, ranging from Bronx Zoo to Staten Island's Snug Harbor. A few highlights include:

  • Wild Science at the Central Park Zoo allows participants to get to know the animals and exhibits as if they were WCS scientists.
  • For the Birds with the New York Audobon Society in Central Park and Forest Park, Queens, teaches kids to identify the birds who frequent our city parks.
  • Compost Critters at GrowNYC's teaching garden on Governors Island introduces composting to kids and lets them explore the micro-bacteria that makes the process possible.
  • Adventures in Aviation at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum explores the ship's history and covers a different topic in each session, including the forces of flight, what makes an aircraft aerodynamic, and more.
  • What's Growing On? at the Queens County Farm Museum teaches participants how to prep the fields for planting and offers face time with furry friends and more.

All told, 22 different Discovery Day programs are offered on various dates throughout the week. The programs cater to kids in kindergarten through 8th grade.

COVID safety precautions include mandatory mask-wearing and limited attendance. One adult must accompany each child—and only one. No siblings can be accommodated unless they apply and are also awarded a seat.

All participants are responsible for transportation to and from their Discovery Day site and should plan to pack or purchase meals and snacks. Access to each cultural institution is included before and after the program.

If you've got older kids, high schoolers are eligible to apply for an animal care or urban farmer internship at the Genovesi Environmental Study Center in Brooklyn. Each internship runs Monday-Friday from 9am-3pm.

Signs of Spring Hike
Narrows Botanic Garden - 10:00 AM Pick
Wildman Steve Brill: Foraging Tour
Prospect Park - 11:45 AM Pick
Aladdin & the Wonderful Lamp
Puppetworks Inc. - 12:30 PM Pick
What We Call Home: Teens Curate the Collection
Bronx Museum of the Arts - 1:00 PM Pick
The Chelsea Symphony
Chelsea Market - 1:00 PM Pick
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