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Participate Podcast: Dr. Margaret Honey with NYSCI

by Sean Maina on


Welcome to the Participate podcast! We believe that great podcasts tell great stories, and our partners at Participate have stories to tell. We’ll talk to them about what they do, how they do it and why it’s important. We’ll also talk to them about how they’re building their community and the ways they’re helping us all learn together.

In this episode, we spoke with Dr. Margaret Honey, CEO and President of the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). As a visionary and inspirational leader in the educational sector, Dr. Honey has performed research for the U.S. Department of Education on the effectiveness of EdTech tools in learning environments and has also supported a plethora of education reform policies and initiatives. This engaging discussion covers her strategic leadership of NYSCI through COVID-19 and her approach to building successful learning environments and Communities of Practice.

From Sesame Street to one of the largest STEM education institutions

In the beginning of the podcast, we dive into Dr. Honey’s background of how she entered the educational space and how she saw EdTech tools changing the educational landscape. Dr. Honey landed a job right out of graduate school at Sesame Workshop, also known as Children’s Television Workshop. At Sesame Workshop, she researched how visual content could engage young viewers.

While performing research, Dr. Honey noted that personal computers and gaming consoles were making their first appearance in the market, and she soon realized that these tools could play an equally important role in education.

The use of 'non-scripted' educational curriculum is vital in learning environments because each student should be able to deeply interact and engage with the content. To make learning so irresistible that no teacher will turn down the usage of that curriculum. - Dr. Honey

This is now reflected in NYSCI’s educational strategy Design, Make, Play, which is used to inspire STEM-educated youth.

The power of technology amid COVID-19

Dr. Honey’s perspective on why EdTech tools are vital to the educational landscape provided a great transition into how NYSCI is driving engagement through COVID-19. She explains how in the borough of Queens, she has observed at least 161 children who have lost a parent to coronavirus. During these difficult times, Dr. Honey has led NYSCI as a completely remote organization, and the organization is now heavily focused on real-time streaming to kids and their families to keep youth engaged while at home. Online streams include NYSCI's Maker and Community team helping families turn old clothes into purses, bags and other useful items and helping children use cardboard and other unused items around their house for new and interesting purposes. Dr. Honey sees the importance of engaging children and families through new and remote educational forms as they continue to build resilience and keep the human spirit alive.

Community partnerships to benefit student growth

The final topic covered with Dr. Honey was the concern of how to build engaging communities and successful partnerships in the education sector. As Dr. Honey sees it, successful partnerships and communities are sustained through tools that draw people together, which inevitably strengthens the collective wisdom in that respective field. By using EdTech tools and other platforms, Communities of Practice can double down on where the learning takes place and build new and improved strategies to continue to drive success.

NYSCI takes a similar approach in its organization by identifying what works in its educational content through research and development teams. By fostering their Design, Make, Play pedagogy and using iterative techniques to find what works best, Dr. Honey sees NYSCI’s strategy helping each student at their own pace.

 Low barrier entry, high ceiling complexity. Find your foothold -- once you work with others, you stretch your learning in exciting new ways. - Dr. Honey

To listen to the full podcast and subscribe to future episodes, click here.

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